Otatara residents object

Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt receives a petition from Otatara resident Penny Ivey, who collected more than 1000 signatures asking the Invercargill City Council to revisit its plans in relation to the bequest of $90,000 left in the will of a former resident.

OTATARA community members are asking the Invercargill City Council (ICC) to revisit its plans in relation to a $90,000 bequest of a former resident.

Former Otatara resident Derek Gostelow bequested $90,000 to ICC on the condition the money be spent on community projects within the Otatara area.

Following public consultation in February, ICC officials recommended the money go towards improvements at Fosbender Park, which would include features such as a barbecue, seating, tables, increased landscaping and signage.

About a dozen members of the community delivered a petition, with more than 1000 signatures opposing the proposed project, to Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt on Wednesday.

They carried signs with ”burning questions” including, “Why did the council fail to consult anyone else before making their decision?” and “What does it take for people to get listened to by this council?”

Invercargill Ratepayers Advocacy Group spokeswoman Kathy Morrison said people were upset because the options they wanted were ignored.

“We voted for the priorities and councillors chose for no explained reason the one that was at the bottom of the list. Nobody understands this.”

Otatara resident Penny Ivey delivered a survey to Otatara residents asking if they agreed with the decision and what would they believe was the right way to spend the money.

“I went to the original meeting with Otatara residents and when I read that council ignored our wishes, I put a comment on the Otatara community Facebook page and got so much support that I thought we should do something about it.”

In five days, more than 1000 responses were received.

Councillor Nobby Clark, who lives at Otatara, supported the stand against the council decision.

“It is clear that the community don’t agree with the project and they feel they were not listened to during the consultation,” he said.

Cr Clark said the community was asking ICC to revisit the decision.

Suggestions put forward included part of the grant be donated to Bush Haven, a private rehabilitation centre where injured native birds were cared for, or some of the money be donated to the Otatara Landcare Group, a group of volunteers who value the natural environment of Otatara, New River Estuary, Sandy Point and Oreti Beach.

“The community is outraged and very angry so they are asking council to revisit the issue,” Cr Clark said. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is with a notice of motion signed by five elected members.

“Myself and the mayor are prepared to do that but none of the other councillors support that.”

Sir Tim said the petition and the request from the community was “what they call democracy in action”.

“This is very much a local issue. I think they are entitled to have their say in a project like this and I encourage people to get out and see what is happening around the city and make a stand.”