Rescue centre site opposed

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A new marine rescue centre for Wanaka is one step closer but some locals say it is the “wrong building in the wrong place”.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) approved granting a lease to Coastguard Wanaka Lakes (CWL) over a portion of Eely Point Recreation Reserve last week.
Coastguard president Jonathan Walmisley said the site at the entrance to the reserve, by the Wanaka scout den, would allow for swift mobilisation of rescue
operations.
Design plans were yet to be finalised but the scale of the building would be dictated by the size of a vehicle and rescue boat on a trailer, Mr Walmisley said.
This would mean a building about 18m long, 14m wide and about 6m high.
Up to 10 pine trees would need to be removed to accommodate the building.
“You are talking about a reasonably sized building,” Mr Walmisley said.
He appreciated that local residents would be affected by a building being built on the reserve, but the site would enable a significant improvement on launch times.
At present, the boat was stored by the A&P showgrounds, which meant a journey through town before launching.
Deployment times would be “cut in half” at the new site and it would allow them to launch from either Eely Point or from the marina, Mr Walmisley said.
“So if we can cut that deployment down by half, that gives us that bit longer to reach somebody before they freeze to death or drown.”
But some residents are not happy with the choice of site.
Dr Nick and Mrs Dora Shearer have a property in Lakeside Rd opposite the
entrance to Eely Point Reserve. They divide their time between Oamaru and Wanaka, and see the reserve as a resource that is enjoyed by many across the town.
They were disappointed about the “lack of consultation”, Mrs Shearer said.
They had made a submission on the draft Wanaka Lakefront Reserves Management Plan, which provided an option of siting the rescue centre below the scout den by the waterfront.
This would mean the building would be “discreetly tucked away into the side of the hill” in the same way the scout den was, Mrs Shearer said.
She agreed that the coastguard needed to have “very good access” to the lake.
However, “without any consultation and without bothering to tell the neighbours”, the site was moved to the top of the reserve.
Once pine trees were removed to allow construction, the building could potentially
be seen from the town, “so obviously it would be very visible from the lake as well”.
It was “the wrong building in the wrong place … more thought should have gone into it.”
Mrs Shearer was sympathetic to what the coastguard was trying to achieve.
Getting a boat across from the showgrounds to the lake in the middle of summer “would be a nightmare”.

They had been “very polite” and had provided information at various points during the process, including sending a letter to local residents.
She had been in touch with the council to try to understand the reasoning behind changing the site from one proposed by the lakeside, but had not had a satisfactory response.
The next stage would include granting resource consent, but Mrs Shearer was concerned that granting a lease to the coastguard biased council towards granting resource consent.
“In effect, one process [will] bias the other.”
A spokesman for the council said a number of sites were considered for the Marine
Rescue Centre but Eely Point Recreation Reserve was the most tenable option _ “as it provided Coastguard Wanaka Lakes quick and easy access to the lake and
water, especially in the event a rapid response is required in case of emergency”.
The decision to support a lease at the site was after council sought public input, and there was a public hearing to listen to submissions for and against, he
said.
Before resource consent was considered Coastguard Wanaka Lakes would need to provide plans that showed the “degree of mitigation” demonstrated on the
site, including elevations, landscaping, layout and exterior
lighting.
“The purpose of this consideration will be to ensure that any suggested building and associated elements will be of appropriate scale, design and colours, with associated landscaping, to ensure that the structure does not materially
detract from the character of reserve, nor adversely dominate the area, and is instead perceived as an attractive and recessive structure that harmonises with its context, principally when viewed from
Lakeside Rd.”