|Eden Park walkway threatens homes
|By LISA SLOAN - Central Leader
A walkway from Auckland's central city to Eden Park has been suggested in preparation for the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby world cup fans could walk from their hotel rooms to the gates of Eden Park if a new council plan goes ahead.
But residents of streets bordering the stadium are uneasy about the proposal.
Consultation is under way to build a walkway running from the central city to the stadium on Walters Rd to reduce traffic.
The move is part of a $32 million plan to improve transport and infrastructure in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The route has not been finalised but will run through New North Rd and require the purchase of some homes.
Eden Park Neighbours Association president and Eden Albert councillor Mark Donnelly says building a walkway is a drastic solution.
"Any walkway taking residential properties is of concern and we are wanting to investigate that," he says.
"Why would you invest millions of dollars in something that wonít be used much when there are simple, effective alternatives?"
Mayor John Banks says the walkway would bring Auckland up to international standards.
"Thereís a lot of things you can see if you just get out and walk," he says.
Mr Banks scaled back the previous councilís investment in the cup, but says a walkway would be worthwhile.
"Itís small spending that we need to do to make people feel welcome, happy and safe in our city," he says.
He says demolishing homes to make way for the path would be a last resort.
"Weíre not going to buy family homes so people can have a shortcut," he says.
Eden Albert Community Board chairman Christopher Dempsey is waiting to see finalised plans before passing judgement.
But he says it seems like a big move for the scale of the event.
"It would be fine, except effectively itís just for one game," he says.
"If it was used for several functions then that would be okay."
The walkway is one of several planned improvements to deal with more than 40,000 visitors during the tournament.
The budget was put to the arts, culture and recreation meeting on Wednesday and will be considered by officials next month.
It includes $22m for transport and infrastructure and $10m for developing training venues and open space.
Other suggested improvements include realigning Sandringham and Walters roads to help widen the railway platform and improving parking for buses and cars.
A council spokeswoman says work on the plan has just begun and the council is looking at options before finalising a route for the walkway.