Bridge to trouble?
Joanna Davies, 15 March 2010
Queen Mary Ave has been crime-free since a bridge was pulled down in 2007. Now residents are worried a new walkway will bring back the baddies, as Joanna Davies reports.
At the end of Queen Mary Ave in New Lynn, a crane is locked behind a wire fence and large pipes lie across the reserve. By the end of May, a new bridge will cross the estuary from the end of the street to Ken Maunder Park, a replacement bridge for the old one pulled down in 2007.
But some residents are worried the new bridge will bring back the crime they say has reduced in their area.
Alastair Graham, who organises the local Neighbourhood Support group, says at least half of the street's families don't want the new bridge.
"Across the park there is an industrial area and people used to run across this bridge and help themselves to a car to get away from police," says Mr Graham. "Since the bridge was pulled down, the crime rate in our street has dropped about 70 per cent."
At an Auckland Regional Council hearing last year, Mr Graham asked for gates to be built into the bridge, and for them to be locked at night. "The committee were very good, and they were sympathetic to our concerns, but they told us that Waitakere City Council would be setting a precedent if they locked the bridge at night. They said that, in an emergency, the bridge might need to be used, even though there hasn't been an emergency since the old bridge was taken down."
Waitakere City Council has been given consent to start construction, but Mr Graham wants security cameras and lighting installed. "We've gone to the New Lynn Community Board, and they will pass on our request to the council."
Waitakere City Council's spokeswoman Lisah Henry says crime in the area has dropped, "but the new Neighbourhood Support group may have well played a major part in that".
"We don't want to be locking people out of public spaces unless absolutely necessary. To do so in this case would set a precedent, which the council is very reluctant to do."
Ms Henry says the council is making the park's lighting from Queen Mary Ave to Rata St a high priority.
"When the bridge was closed the council received a lot of complaints from residents who regularly use the bridge to access shops at New Lynn and surrounding areas. It will provide a key link and access to Rata St, Avondale and New Lynn from Queen Mary Ave and associated streets."
Ken Maunder Park was originally called Binsted Park, after the family who once owned the land.
In the 1940s, it was used as a council rubbish dump. In the 1950s, the Binsteds sold the land to make a recreational reserve.
The name was changed to Rewa Park in 1956. In the 1960s, playing fields were developed on it and the first bridge to Queen Mary Ave was built.
In 1970, the park was named Ken Maunder Reserve after a New Lynn Borough Councillor, and it is now home to Lynn-Avon Soccer Club.