Yesterday I read the following quotes from Mayor Barbara Arnott in HB Today:

“It’s so disappointing. The stretch between Bay View and Westshore has people on it all the time, so these cowards have probably gone along there at night to do this.”

“Napier is a good community. And the one thing that can defeat these imbeciles is that community.”

“So it hurts them because they have to be paid for.”

“If people suspect this sort of activity is taking place call the police. We shouldn’t have to put up with that.”

I was astonished and jumped to the phone to call Westshore beach protection advocate Larry Dallimore and congratulate him.

Larry answered my call.

“Larry, I can’t believe it,” I exclaimed. “You finally got through to Mayor Arnott. She sounds really p****d about the debacle at Westshore. She says the council’s beach restoration work is the work of ‘imbeciles’ … just like you’ve been saying all along. Congratulations, maybe the tide will now turn.”

“Sorry Tom,” Larry replied. “Cool your jets. You need to read the article more closely. She was talking about some vandals who snapped off about a dozen newly planted Norfolk pine trees. That’s awful, but it’s not millions of ratepayer dollars wasted on failed beach replenishment.”

You can imagine my embarrassment.

Spending millions on failed beach replenishment at Westshore is business as usual for the Napier Council. But don’t mess with those Norfolk pines!

Larry, please stand for the Napier Council next year!

Tom Belford

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  1. Tom, I had expected more comment on your delightful observation. This mindless act of vandalism is appalling and hopefully the culprits will get more than a warning and the parents are more than just annoyed their kids got caught.

    A suggestion was to tie the offenders to the damaged trees so ratepayers can have a private chat as they walked or cycled past. Whilst planting trees, especially native, are totally welcome, these pines are in the Erosion Zone. There is a little irony in that the Mayor has adopted a Beach Nourishment Scheme that maintains this Zone which will ensure a worse fate for these trees in the future.

    Sadly, a CHZ or erosion would not be a problem at any beach north of the Napier Port if the actual cause was established and a hard engineering solution was built. A rock seawall would allow the irrational Coastal Erosion Line (6th attempt) to be removed along with the associated building limitations. The heavily reduced LV’s in the CHZ could be reinstated and the rate adjustment for properties in the Zone would be restored to NCC revenues. The CHZ has to stay in place well after remedial work therefore the NCC will have foregone $1.2M in rates from Whakarire Ave properties alone.

    The abhorrence of vandalism is not missed but Tom paints the sad picture of how Mayor Arnott and her Councillors prioritise problems at Westshore. The Councillors are frequently boasting how well they are performing as individuals but ratepayers are well overdue for some positive action at Westshore Beach. The facts are, the beach is a mess and our rates continue to be wasted. The erosion solution has been a dismal failure for over 25 years, the 3 year holdup to the Consent process is pathetic, and allowing the main beach to become unusable and inaccessible is unacceptable. NCC is not taking a potential $20M problem seriously enough to even make full Council agendas let alone an item for the Major Projects Committee to consider.

    Mayor Arnotts interest in trees and disinterest in erosion can be put in perspective in dollar terms. The land lost by “managed retreat” includes the upper beach already sacrificed and the backshore within the Erosion Zone as projected by engineers. The conservative estimate of Reserve land to be lost by avoidable erosion is well over 80,000 sq.m. At $600 per sq.m for prime seafront property, the LV loss is $48M. Add some private property, a Surf Club building and some City infrastructure and the total loss could easily knock over $55M. Will future generations remember Mayor Arnott for her concern for trees worth $1,500 or the avoidable loss of land and assets worth $55M?

    We desperately need an open and transparent Council or a better format. Listen out at the next election – candidates will make the same hollow promises “Vote for me because this is what I’m going to do to save Westshore Beach”.

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