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Kaiapoi RSA president Neill Price says he is disappointed but understanding of the decision to defer planned upgrades to the town's memorial walkway. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

By Adams Burns

A disappointed Returned Services Association (RSA) Kaiapoi president is accepting a decision to put off upgrades to the Riverbank Walkway and Memorial Reserve for at least another two years.

It comes after recommended changes to the design inflated the project out to $271,000 more than double of what was originally budgeted.

The Waimakariri District Council has now agreed to defer the project until the 2023/2024 financial year, so the upgrades could be funded appropriately within the council’s long term plan.

Development of the walkway through the reserve was approved at Kaiapoi-Tuawhi Community Board meeting in November due its poor condition.

Major design changes include an extension of the reserve into Raven Quay, reduced kerb heights along the street, new terraces and lighting treatments. Kaiapoi RSA president Neill Price has been involved in discussions with community leaders as project plans advanced and says he understood council’s position.

“We’re disapointed but we fully understand the situation and appreciate what the council have done for us over the years,” Mr Price says.

“We’re not expecting any big changes on the reserve this year.”

He says the RSA was pragmatic and conscious of the need to “keep rates down”.

“We have to accept what the situation is.”

Mr Price hoped some features could be completed sooner, including the install of an additional flagpole at the eastern of reserve.

The matter was hotly debated at the last council meeting after councillor Kirstyn Barnett criticised how the plans had transpired, amid tough economic times.

“When do we say enough is enough…we’ve poured millions of dollars in to the Kaiapoi area.

“I’m really concerned about us adding costs by deferring projects, doubling the scope and doubling the budget.

“The intention is great but the process is wrong.”

Deputy mayor Neville Atkinson fiercely refuted these sentiments and defended the economic contributions into the town.

“It’s had millions of dollars spent on it because there was a little thing called an earthquake.

“This council decided to rebuild it back better of which it has done.

“It hasn’t got anything excessively over-the-top outside of that.”

Council greenspace manager Grant MacLeod says cost increases due to inflation was a possible factor.

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