At times we are faced with some fundamental dilemmas (if I could call them that) as Elected Members and even for you as ratepayers. When the news came through of the significant slip at Blue Bluff on the Ōtaki Gorge road the question came up over whether we fixed it and at what cost? What was the public good or benefit? How much was too much and would it happen again? There were many questions and, at the time, not a lot of answers. The biggest question was could we fix it?
Well I can honestly say I was relieved to hear that we were able to start work on clearing the slip and reinstating the road. The costs, well a lot less than we were expecting coming in under $500k and softened by the efforts of council staff getting a 50% subsidy from NZTA. Even better staff have managed to fund the work out of existing budgets.
But it did raise the question… at what cost? Tramping is good for our health and social wellbeing and the Tararuas are a major attraction for many locals and visitors from afar who enjoyed the many tracks and huts throughout the ranges. However many ratepayers will likely never set foot in one of those huts or do the Southern Crossing. The same though can be said for our playgrounds, libraries, pools etc. So I must admit that I was quietly nervous that the costs were going to be significant and raise the question of how much does our community value the access into the Tararuas and Ōtaki Forks campsite? Had the cost been $1Million + would we still want it done? There’s the dilemma….
There is also an economic benefit to our community from the many that do come to enjoy our great outdoors. How much is hard to quantify but its fair to say that many local businesses are patronized as people gas up their cars or buy their supplies and that in turn provides employment and stimulation to our local economy.
If you haven’t been up the Ōtaki Gorge or on one of the many tramps, walkways or cycleways I encourage you to give it a go. We have such fantastic opportunities right on our door step and great places like Ōtaki Hunting and Fishing, Kathmandu, Farmlands, Icebreaker and Kapiti Cycles in Riverbank rd to assist you with the necessary equipment.
Hei konā rā – James Cootes