“I would rather see nothing than the wrong thing”.
That was how Methven Community Board chairperson Kelvin Holmes described the situation with the placement of a new unsealed footpath in Methven.
The construction of an unsealed footpath along State Highway SH77, from the corner of Racecourse Road to the Ōpuke Thermal Pools and up to the Methven Walkway, has been awarded to Fulton Hogan.
It is scheduled for completion before the end of the year but its start has been delayed as its placement is under scrutiny from the community board.
Council staff met with members of the community board and Ōpuke Thermal Pools last week and the work has been put on hold until the alignment of the path is resolved.
At its inaugural meeting at the end of October, the board requested an update on the impending construction of the footpath due to concerns about its positioning and drainage issues associated with potential flood risks.
Robin Jenkinson raised the alarm that the plan was to place the footpath down the middle of the swale.
“All they are going to do is create a gravel drain,” he said.
Holmes said he understood the path was supposed to be tucked in along the hedge line away from the swale and the road.
Councillor Rodger Letham said “it would be a waste of time” if it isn’t placed correctly.
“I think we need to double-check it because we are just wasting time and money if it’s the wrong thing,” Letham said.
Where the footpath is going is an already popular walking route in an area where the community is campaigning for a speed reduction, from 100kph down to 50kph.
Deputy mayor and Methven resident, Liz McMillan, has previously said that the addition of the Ōpuke Thermal Pools alongside two subdivisions has meant keeping the stretch of road at 100kph raises serious safety concerns.
A petition was presented to Waka Kotahi last year but the response was that it could not be actioned until 2024 under the existing land transport plan.
The introduction of a new setting of speed limits law in May will allow for reductions to be considered at a regional level so could see the change made sooner.
- Jonathan Leask