By John Subritzky
At a recent Whau Local Board (WLB) meeting, it was standing room only as not one, but two groups of local residents came to protest about their reserves.
The Davern Lane residents made their presentation which visibly moved many of the board members. Then next up was a group of about twenty residents from the Ambrico precinct. Their reserve is proposed to be unusable for up to 18 months while being used as a construction site for the Clinker Place Stormwater Project.
This project involves boring and pipejacking a 530-meter-long stormwater pipe from the Clinker Place Special Housing Area (the former Ceramco brickworks) to the Manawa Wetland Reserve. To facilitate this, an access shaft will be sunk near the side of Ambrico Place, immediately across the road from the historic Ambrico Kiln remains. The reserve is collateral damage.
The residents expressed their concerns about the loss of use of the park as the only safe, close greenspace for those living in the 300 houses surrounding the reserve. Eleven trees are scheduled to be removed, just as they come into maturity 23 years after planting. The noise and vibration that will affect neighbours could also endanger the remains of the Ambrico Kiln, which is already extensively cracked and has had external reinforcing added to try and preserve it.
Kay Thomas noted that it was the previous WLB that had been briefed on the project, although the potential impacts are not always fully explained to local boards. She encouraged the residents to make submissions.
In a later statement, Auckland Council General Manager Healthy Waters Craig Mcilroy says “The team has taken into account recent feedback from the Whau Local Board and the Ambrico Place community and is working with our contractor to change the tunnelling process so that much less of the reserve will be required during construction. Approximately 40% at the northern end of the reserve will now be used (pending resource consent approval) with the remaining 60% including the playground, remaining open to the public.” The time timeline for the reserve has been reduced to 12 months. He further says that “In June 2019 a vibration assessment carried out, indicated that the kiln will not be affected by the works.” Assurance is given that vibration monitoring and management will be undertaken during the project.
The WLB has sponsored several community-building events including movie nights, picnic in the park and neighbour support at the reserve. These have been aimed at bringing people out of the gated housing areas to share a sense of community together. Ironically, what has galvanised the community into action is the proposed loss of the very reserve that they have gathered on for these events.