The words “good compromise” are those of Jonathan Kline, the Commodore of the Mercury Bay Boating Club(MBBC), after discussions with Thames Coromandel District Council. Things got heated and a little despairing when members of the community and the volunteers from MBBC saw that bollards had been erected right across the front of the Ohuka Reserve or the Macrocarpa Reserve) seriously limiting access for those with boat trailers to go fishing, or horse riders to park a float, or families having their young people taught to sail. The loss of parking would also be a huge sticking point for the coming regattas which bring so many visitors to town and the many community events hosted by or at the Boating Club. Out of town guests simply would have had nowhere to park.
The intention of the bollards was to protect the area and the large trees and to do some protective dune planting to mitigate the impact of erosion. However, the lack of consultation which was perceived as no consideration of current users and the taxpayer, was acknowledged by TCDC and published in last week’s Informer along with a clear explanation of the longer-term intentions. Since then, they have offered an apology for not following their consultation policy. Discussions were held with key users and, “It’s a good result. We are happy with the compromise,” says Jonathan. “I need to see the finished product, but TCDC reached out to the Boating Club and the Pony Club and though we would have liked to see broader consultation, we can move on from here.”
The photo demonstrates the good distance that the bollards are being moved back. A small team were working hard this week to complete the new re-arrangement of the reserve space. Future Reality: When it comes to the near future, there are very big issues for the Boating Club to face. They do not own the land that their building is on. It is leased from TCDC. The terms of the lease clearly state that all responsibility for anything that might impact the building, sits squarely with the Mercury Bay Boating Club. Technically, the bollards land does not have to be shared with the Boating Club or the users of any events at the Boating Club. But conditions in front of the boating club are often dangerous and unsafe for launching small boats; hence, the volunteer coaches are in the habit of erring on the side of safety and must haul by hand all of the junior boats and coach boats down to the Macracarpa Reserve to find safe launching conditions. And when visiting sailors come to town, once again, the Ohuka/Macracarpa Reserve is the only safe place to launch the boats, when conditions in front of the club do not allow access to the water.
This has been the case for decades. Some kind of “saving” plan cannot be ignored or delayed. Recently, there has been a proposal for a hard structure, a wall, to go in front of the Club to protect it from further erosion. This would be at an approximate cost of $600,000 which, to be carried by the Boating Club members, is a goal too far and not feasible at this time. “Even if we had the money,” says Jonathan, “we do not own the land and therefore, we cannot justify such expense. All damage and any events that cause further cost to sustain such a structure, belong to us. Another possibility is to push back the building further from the shoreline. There is a huge cost involved and a lot of special skill required. It is time to highlight the detail of these issues.” These are weighty matters and need to be shared. Who knows what could come of these plans or who could assist with such a project or leading proposals for what is necessary to take sailing and boating and the work of the MB Boating Club into the future? In the meantime, thanks to community effort and consultation and the users who have looked after the area for years; for now, the people who bring their boats to participate in regattas, horse riders with their floats, hopeful fishermen and fisherwomen with their boat trailers and those learning to sail, can use most of Ohuka Reserve.