By GUY WILLIAMS
A standoff remains between Queenstown council management and the backers of a campaign to save the Gorge Road Jump Park.
Nathan Greenwood, the world-renowned park’s designer and builder, reckons it’s going to take the intervention of elected councillors to stop the diggers from demolishing what he considers to be his life’s work.
That’s why he’s making a presentation to them — and other representatives of resort officialdom — at the park this afternoon.
Greenwood says he’s been bombarded with messages of support since launching his ‘Save
Gorge Road Jumps’ campaign a week ago.
A decision by the council last week to delay the destruction of the jumps until the end of the month has been a minor victory.
Meanwhile, an online petition to save the park, started in 2018, has had more than 10,000 hits since being resurrected last weekend.
Started by local Lowell Smyth, the ‘Save Gorge Road Jump Park’ petition on avaaz.org got 19,000 signatures before it was taken down three years ago.
Since relaunching it and linking it to ‘savegorgeroadjumps’ on Instagram, it’s topped 30,000 hits and counting.
Greenwood wants his campaign to be constructive rather than confrontational.
‘‘Everything’s about trying to work with [the council], it’s not about winding them up.
‘‘It’s ‘how can we fix this situation?’ … and finding alternative pieces of land.’’
In a statement, council property and infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says it’s discussed the future of the Gorge Rd site with the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club since 2017, confirming in 2018 it would need the site for town centre infrastructure projects.
So it’s ‘‘disappointing’’ the club’s now saying it’s unhappy about the plan to relocate the park to a recreation reserve on Queenstown Hill, Hansby says.
Both parties worked to find an equivalent, if not better site, for the club, close to town with an available water source, tree coverage and space for off-street parking, he says.
And in 2018, a club presentation to council described the new site’s terrain as having ‘‘great gradients and contours’’ that would allow it to build jumps suitable for all ability levels.
As well as funding investigations into the new site and pushing through a consent on the club’s behalf, the council’s just finished building a $400,000 carpark and toilet there.
It’s also given the club $100,000 to help with the earthworks needed to build the jumps.
Hansby says the offer by billionaire resort resident Rod Drury to buy the Gorge Rd site and gift it back to the council, on the proviso the jump park’s retained, is an ‘‘outstanding gesture’’.
But the council’s been working on securing sites for supporting town centre infrastructure projects for ‘‘some years’’, and it’s still looking.
‘‘So these last-minute changes are challenging, especially as the new [infrastructure and roading] work is just getting underway.’’