MARTIN DE RUYTER/Stuff
Council have come to an agreement with Koata Ltd to maintain public access to Fringed Hill and Codgers mountain bike park.
Access to some of Nelson’s most popular mountainbike trails has been secured with an interim $80,000 grant to Koata Ltd to maintain public access at Fringed Hill and Codgers trails.
The agreement was made at a meeting of Nelson City Council’s Sport and Recreation Committee on Thursday, with representatives from Koata Ltd and the Nelson Mountain Bike Club (NMTBC) also in attendance.
In 2014, Koata Ltd (on behalf of the Ngati Koata Trust) purchased more than 4500 hectares of forestry land which included tracks in the Sharlands Valley, Fringed Hill and parts of the Codgers area.
Prior to the purchase the land had been heavily used for public recreation, with Koata Ltd taking on the management burden for public use in the following years.
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This year however, Koata Ltd advised council that burden had become too heavy, and it (as well as its tenant Nelson Pine Forests Ltd) was having to deal with a financial loss due to the continued recreational activities.
If an agreement was not reached, it would restrict public access to the land at the end of the year.
At the meeting Koata Ltd chief executive Hemi Toia said he wanted to make it clear Ngāti Koata wanted recreational access continued in the area.
“That’s our first intention and desire, that access continues for the ratepayers of Nelson City and visitors.
“Koata’s position is we cannot continue to subsidise that recreational use of Koata land.”
Team leader for parks and facilities activity management Paul Harrington said while Koata Ltd’s preferred option was to set up a lease agreement with the council, the legal requirements meant it would not be a realistic option in the short term.
Instead, an interim option was put forward, with Koata Ltd proposing a sum of $120,000 per year for the use of its land until the lease was agreed to.
In the recommendation to council, $80,000 would be provided from ratepayer funds for access at Fringed Hill and parts of Codgers. A separate negotiation for access to Sharlands would be made between Koata Ltd and the club.
Councillors voted unanimously in support of the proposal.
Mayor Rachel Reese said it was an important step towards supporting the development of mountainbiking in Nelson.
She also said it was important to acknowledge Ngāti Koata’s generosity in allowing public access.
“This is settlement land, yet it is still available fully for the public to enjoy and use. It is absolutely appropriate that [we recognise] this is in fact private land.
“I want to thank iwi and Koata Ltd for the generosity and pragmatism to allow public access for all of those years on what is private land, but also for taking the responsible approach of recognising we need to manage this appropriately.”
After the meeting mountain bike club manager Belinda Crisp said she was very pleased with the result, and was confident the club would reach its own agreement with Koata Ltd before the end of the year.