LocalMatters       

Carpark charges gone after AT bows out

Posted at 11:59am Monday 12 Oct, 2020 | By James Addis editor@localmatters.co.nz

There is free parking at Sandspit Car Park, but for how long?
There is free parking at Sandspit Car Park, but for how long?

Visitors heading to Sandspit to launch a boat or catch a ferry now have the option of free parking at Sandspit Car Park.

The unexpected bonus came after management of the carpark transferred from Auckland Transport (AT) to Auckland Council's Community Facilities department (ACCF) on October 1.

Residents who currently hold a Concession Car Park Licence Agreement (CCPLA) to use the carpark will get a pro rata refund for the period extending beyond September 30.

Far from being greeted with enthusiasm, news of the change-over sparked alarm among Kawau Islanders who feared they will not now be able to secure a park when needed and that moves are afoot to remove the car park completely

Rodney Local Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke says she was furious a letter had gone out to CCPLA agreement holders without any consultation with the Board, causing the upset.

However, she assures residents there are no plans to remove the car park and that, except for two or three weeks of the year at the height of the summer season, it is seldom full.   

Despite the communications snafu, Ms Houlbrooke says the switch to ACCF management will give the Local Board a greater say in the running of the carpark and a greater ability to solve some of Sandspit's parking congestion at peak times.

She says to avoid paying parking charges, motorists, often with boat trailers, park along Brick Bay

Drive, sometimes for a week or more. Cars frequently end up parked on berms, blocking residents' driveways and considerably narrowing the roadway, creating tensions between residents and visitors.      

One suggestion is that by lowering charges at the car park, motorists will be less likely to park in surrounding streets and have the added benefit of being able to park closer to the ferry terminal and boat ramps.   

Lowered carpark charges could also make using the Kawau ferry services more attractive to visitors.

“Having to factor in, say, another $15 for parking on top of the ferry fare is prohibitive,” Ms Houlbrooke says.  

To better manage Sandspit car parking issues, the Local Board had previously initiated a carpark assessment to inform future policy. The assessment was due to be completed at Easter but was delayed due to Covid-19. It's now expected to be completed sometime after Labour Weekend.

The sudden departure of AT from its management role has meant car parking is free until another operating model is put in place.

Ms Houlbrooke says AT has long wanted to be rid of responsibility for the carpark because it is on reserve land. This creates legal headaches and makes it more difficult to generate enough revenue from parking fees to cover costs.      

Council head of area operations Paul Amaral confirmed the current operating model was being reviewed, including the possible re-introduction of paid parking.

Mr Amaral would not be drawn on how long the free parking was likely to last.     

“The priority will be to ensure that the whole community gets improved access and aren't adversely affected by the change to the carpark. We look forward to working closely with the Local Board to deliver the best outcome,” he says.

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