Article by:TRACY NEAL
The Tahunanui community is gathering facts and figures on the best way the planned new cycleway from Nelson Airport to Richmond might be extended to include a connection to Tahunanui. The aim is to capitalise on work planned for other projects along the route, which would cut the cost of building the track and future-proof the area for projected visitor and residential use, Tahunanui Business Association member John Gilbertson said.
The plan to extend the cycleway around the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park to include the current walkway around the Nelson Airport perimeter was presented to the city council last week by councillor Ian Barker, following an update on the cycle trail development by the Nelson Cycle Trails Trust.
Trustee Chris Allison said the plan to include Tahunanui was a “fantastic initiative”. Most of the people who underestimated the potential for cycle tourism were Nelsonians. Councillor Paul Matheson said outside last week’s council meeting it was doubtful the project would get past the Nelson Airport company, which prohibited cycling around the airport walkway.
Airport company chief executive Kaye McNabb said cycles were banned from the airport perimeter for aviation operational safety reasons. The airport company “worked hard” to ensure that the Civil Aviation Authority was comfortable with the company’s management of the perimeter track so that it could remain open for the benefit of walkers.
“We would be concerned if that was jeopardised. Any move to provide uncontrolled vehicle or cycle access is likely to do that,” Mrs McNabb said.
An extra burden of a cycleway on the perimeter would be the cost involved in having to install security fencing around the airport, she said.
Mr Gilbertson said the airport company was owned by the two councils who could “get their heads together” over the idea. It was possible to lower the cycleway around the airport so that riders conformed with civil aviation rules which the airport company had to abide by.
A document prepared by the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park and the Tahunanui Business Association said the plan was consistent with the city council’s cycle strategy, complemented the Heart of Nelson strategy and would ensure the city did not miss out on tourism growth expected to be generated by the new cycleway.
Under the current cycleway development, visitors arriving via Nelson Airport were likely to head immediately south towards the major Tasman loop trail.
“The current lack of through-route undermines the city’s opportunity to capitalise on the future flow of cycle tourists into the tourist hubs of Tahunanui and the Nelson central business district,” it said.
It also said the estuary coast from the Tahunanui back beach through to the Monaco peninsula was an untapped regional resource.
Mr Gilbertson said Tahunanui was a hub for visitor accommodation, with the city council-owned Tahuna Beach Holiday Park hosting more than 185,000 guest nights a year. There were also 25 motels and lodges and three backpacker establishments in Tahunanui and the easily accessible Tahunanui looks to get in on cycleway plan.