Reclaiming the waterfront for all

Welcome Bay resident Chris Doms wants the encroachments along the Welcome Bay Road Esplanade cleared so everyone can enjoy the waterfront. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

A Welcome Bay resident is rallying his community in a bid to reclaim a public waterfront reserve that has been encroached by fences, plantings and other structures erected by private homeowners.

The Welcome Bay Road Esplanade runs along the waterfront from Welcome Bay Road, near the intersection of Waitaha Road, to Tye Park on Forrester Drive, however it is currently inaccessible and few people know it is there.

Chris Doms first tried to run along the esplanade two years ago, but fences, planting and structures erected right up to the edge of the waterfront forced him on to the mud flats below.

“I looked it up on the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) maps and sure enough, it was a reserve,” says Chris. “I called the council to talk about it and then promptly forgot about it again.”

When Chris raised the subject on the Welcome Bay Noticeboard Facebook page recently, he got a flurry of comments in support of reclaiming the esplanade for everyone to use.

“I’m really surprised at the amount of response I’ve had,” he says. “A lot of people had no idea it was there and then there are people who have known about it for many years.”

Chris has met with parks and reserves staff at Tauranga City Council, who have invited him to speak at a council meeting and to make a submission in the next Long Term Plan consultation process.

“They are aware of the issue, but constrained in what they can do. At the moment council’s resources are going into Mount Maunganui beach encroachments, which is understandable, but frustrating.”

TCC parks manager Mark Smith confirmed the council started working with landowners to remove encroachments in Karewa Parade in Papamoa and has moved progressively toward Mount Maunganui. “We will next move to start resolving harbour encroachments,” says Mark.

He says staff have an annual budget of $50,000 for weed removal and preparation for planting and a target of resolving 20 encroachments per year.

He says a formed walkway or boardwalk for Welcome Bay Road Esplanade is included in the council’s Reserve Management Plan and budgeted in the Long Term Plan for 2023.

Chris says when the council moves on to dealing with harbourfront encroachments on public reserves, he wants the Welcome Bay Esplanade at the top of the priority list.

“In the short-term, I’d like to see the encroachments removed – the fences and planting that go right up to the waterfront and block access entirely,” says Chris. “Most properties don’t encroach, but there are enough that access is entirely blocked from each end.”

With the encroachments removed, the strip could be re-grassed and be wide enough to accommodate walkers and prams, says Chris.

“That would give everyone access to that area. In the longer term I’d love to see a boardwalk built there, and that would remove the possibility of encroachments again.”

Chris says he’s not normally “a public-facing person” but he wants to take this on because there seems to a real passion for it in the community.

“We want to show councillors that this is important to us,” he says. “Welcome Bay can be a bit of a forgotten suburb sometimes.”

He’s also keen to ensure there is no animosity towards the residents living along the esplanade.

“It’s easy to be frustrated with them, but it doesn’t help anyone. It shouldn’t be an issue that splits the community.”

Welcome Bay ward councillor Bill Grainger says no one has raised the issue of access to the Welcome Bay Road Esplanade with him before, but agrees that could be because so few people are aware of it.

He is “not supportive one way or another” on the suggestion of a boardwalk.

“For some people it gives them access to walk along there, but sometimes you look at a natural piece of land like that and think ‘it looks nice as it is’,” says Bill.

He says if the Welcome Bay community was supportive of a boardwalk, he would take that seriously.


6 Comments

Opening Up Welcome Bay Esplanade a Brilliant Idea

Posted on 15-09-2018 10:05 | By Sollygirl

Welcome Bay IS the forgotten suburb and this idea to open up the waterfront reserve between Tye Park and Waitaha Rd is inspired. Hell, why not build something similar to what is is proposed between Memorial Park and the Strand and run a proper wide cycling and walking path all the way around (or across the Welcome Bay Estuary) linking up with a cycle link across the Maungatapu Bridge, along the Matapihi Peninsula and into Tauranga City or Bayfair. That would help solve your traffic congestion, Welcome Bay, you’d have the prettiest cycle commute in New Zealand. And there’s government funding for these types of transport initiatives.

gosh

Posted on 14-09-2018 18:41 | By dumbkof2

what gives them the right to block off a public park

yes

Posted on 14-09-2018 16:18 | By dumbkof2

im all for the crackdown

If it

Posted on 14-09-2018 16:03 | By Merlin

If it is not their land oder it to be removed forthwith and charge them for the removal.

Overt it - NO ratepayer contribution, to acquire or maintain

Posted on 14-09-2018 14:11 | By Murray.Guy

Ratepayers are NOT paying any costs, in renewals or maintenance on this esplanade reserve land, a narrow strip forcibly taken off property owners with no payment. Some parts are too narrow for a walkway to be established on land, and why would you. Our jogger can jog around the park. At the moment we’ve 40 or so property owners taking care of it to varying degrees, just as most do in front of their homes. We’ve critical safe cycling infrastructure needed throughout our city which represents priority expenditure before a recreational joggers delight and many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Agree

Posted on 14-09-2018 13:47 | By overit

If we are paying for its upkeep, why not. The residents wont like it though.

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