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Community Planning For Eskdale Park Coming Up

A long-term plan for Eskdale Park will be developed over the next year, giving park users, neighbours and the wider community a say in its development and management.

Hastings District Council approved the preparation of an Eskdale Park Reserve Management Plan on Tuesday [Dec 8].

The rural park, which is within the Hastings District and sits just north of Napier, had not been due to have its own Reserve Management Plan (RMP) prepared until after 2030, however concern over a sports group’s suggestion that it may apply to use a part of the park had brought the project forward.

The Hawke’s Bay Mountain Bike Club had suggested it might use a footbridge from Eskdale Park to access new trails it is building on privately owned neighbouring land. That suggestion had upset some locals who believed it would lead to parking congestion and further development in the park.

Council is obliged to receive and consider all requests to use park land however, to date, no application to use any part of Eskdale Park had been received by Council.

Under the Reserves Act, Council has been preparing RMPs for its parks, with parks without an individual plan being managed under the Districtwide Reserve Management Plan.

Meetings with stakeholder groups, including the mountain bike club, Friends of Eskdale Park representatives and mana whenua, in November agreed that the preparation of an individual RMP for the park would be a way for the community to help plan the development of the park, and have a say in activities it did or did not want on the park.

Hastings District councillor and Council’s Eco-District Subcommittee chair Ann Redstone, who led the November meetings, said the decision to prepare a Reserve Management Plan will ensure everyone’s opinions are heard, and give users and stakeholders the opportunity, with the assistance of Council officers, to come up with solutions to potential differences in visions for the park.

The process would start in late February/early March. It typically took a year to complete an RMP, said Hastings District Council open spaces manager Rachel Stuart, who would be leading the project.

Public engagement will include community meetings on the park, on-line forums and stakeholder meetings, with all events and opportunities to provide input widely advertised throughout Hastings and Napier.

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