Volunteers are back on track

Volunteers turned their spades to the Brick Bay walking tracks for the first time in a year last month, following Auckland Council’s decision to let them continue maintenance.

There are 2.6 kilometres of tracks that connect Sandspit to Brick Bay, via Horseshoe Bay.

They were constructed over 15 years by Leicester Trewin, starting in the early 1980s, and have been maintained ever since by local volunteers who resurface the network.

Volunteer Steve Harrison says after eight years of his group acquiring gravel from council to do the maintenance work, they suddenly had their supply cut off and were left in the dark.

“In April last year, the council contractor for the area changed from Recreational Services to Rhodes for Roads and, all of a sudden, we couldn’t get any response from Council,” Steve says.

“We would go through our usual process to apply for a gravel drop in the area, but nothing happened and no one got back in touch with us.”

A year later, on March 28, an email was received from Council asking if the volunteers would like six cubic metres of gravel for resurfacing work.

“The message came completely out of the blue, but we’re really happy to have communication with Council again and got back into maintenance work early last month.”

The Sandspit Residents and Ratepayers Association (SRRA) member in charge of tracks, David Astbury, says it’s a positive outcome following a frustrating time.

“We do now have to fill out a health and safety form every time we carry out work on the tracks, but it’s a great result that we can get back to work and keep these tracks in good condition,” he says.
SRRA chair Greg Doherty says bureaucracy has gone wild at Council and it’s a relief they decided to get back in touch with the volunteers.

“There was no resurfacing maintenance being carried out during the waiting period by the contractor and rain storms would cause the gravel to wash away,” Greg says.

“Letting the volunteers do this work as they have done for years doesn’t impact the taxpayer.”

Auckland Council head of operational management and maintenance Agnes McCormack says communication was maintained through the period but the request for gravel wasn’t realised.

“We are sorry that there has been a delay while we worked through this with our contractor. The agreement reached will continue to allow for safe community involvement in the track maintenance,” she says.

Volunteers were also pleased to hear last month that bridges and retaining walls on the track network that they are unable to deal with themselves, will be replaced starting in October.

“That infrastructure is 25 years old and we’ve had a number of delays on its replacement,” David says.

“The council doesn’t want to start the 12-week project until after the winter, but we are very pleased to hear it will be completed later this year, as it’s a fairly difficult job in places.”