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THE RAILWAY TRIANGLE.

A special meeting of the City Council was held last evening for the purpose of considering the propcual received from Messrs Stanford and Milne. There were present— The Mayor, Crs Kimbell, Fish, Barron, Hardy, Sinclair, M'Gregor, Smith, Cohen, Cramond, Solomon, and Carroll. Mr Stanford was also in attendance. Cr Fish said that as the matter was one in the discussion tf which various details must be touched upon which it would not be convenient to the promoters to have dealt with publicly, the initiatory discussion should be taken in committee, and any discussion upon the main point or the principle of the matter could be taken when the Council resumed. He would move in that direction.

Cr Hardy seconded the motion. Cr Solomon said he did not see that any advantage would be gained by going into committee, there being nothing to conceal; while on the other hand the ratepayers had a right to know what their representatives thought and did on the question. Cr Fish said he had every desire that the citizens should know all about the matter, but he should have thought ic musthave struck anyone with the keen observation of Cr Solomon that there must be many details in a matter of this kind which it was not advisable to discuss publicly. When Mr Stanford had been heard as to the details, he would move that the discussion by the Council be taken with open doors. Cr Salomon was not alone in his desire that the piblic should get the fullest information. Cr Kimbell remarked that it was resolved at the last meeting that the mattrr should be considered by a committee of the whole Council. There was no reason why the public should not know all that took p'ace, but every reason why all the detailed statements made by the gentleman who had been asked to attend should not be reported. The motion was put and carried, the Council then going into committee accordingly. During the course of the proceedings Cr Smith rose and protested against the business being taken in committee, _ and declined to take part in the discussion of the subject in any private manner. The Mayor explained that it wasonly proposed to hear Mr Stanford in committee. Cr Smith said he understood that, bu 1 ; must contend that Mr Stanford's account of the proceedings from the very commencement should be properly reported to the public. He must decline to have anything to do with the discussion as conducted at present, as he looked upon it as a perfect firce. Cr Barron said he had no doubt Mr Stanford would be perfectly willing that the public should know all that passed. Cr Fish said that, looking at the aspect the matter was taking, he might be prepared to move presently that the whole t'ling be squashed. There seemed to be a disposition to insinuate that there was something underhanded in the conduct of the affair. Mr Stanford had already been heard fully by the public, as his letter was p iblished in extenso. Cr Smith said his contention wa3 that they should approach the principle of the matter before discussing the details at all. He then left the room, and the proceedings were resumed. On the Council resuming, Cr Fish said he desired to move the first of a series of three resolutions he had drafted, and which would, at any rate, raise the question of the whole principle. The first was as follows : " That in the opinion of thia Council the principle contained in the proposition laid before the Council by Messrs Stanford and Milne, subject to further consideration of details, is one which, without doubt, is calculated to be of benefit to the citizens." He quite agreed with those councillors who had spoken in committee to the effect that the principle was the thing they should consider first. They might either agree with or differ from the details, but what they had to consider was whether the objects for which they were asked to 3cck power to divert in some degree the reserve From the purpose for which it was granted were of sufficient public importance to justify them in doing so. The reserves were all granted for the purpose of public recreation, bat what they had to consider was how far, if at all, they would in this case be departing from the principles of the Trust. It was an admitted fact that one great public want was a good market, and from time to time the Council had made spasmodic attempts to provide it, but these had unfortunately resulted in failure. They came next to the suitability of the site, and it must again be considered that there could be no more excellent site than this for a market. It was immediately in the centre of the town, and in direct proximity to the railway and wharves, where the produce arrived from all parts of the country. They had to consider, however, if the erection of a market on this reserve was within the four corners of the Trust. If a market could not be strictly said to be for recreative purposes it must be admitted to be a public necessity and _to Satisfy a considerable public want. Outside of this it was proposed to construct salt water baths, and whatever doubt _ there might be with regard to the market in connection with recreation, there could be no question that the construction of salt water baths must be recreative in the highest and most sensible degree. It would provide the citizens with a boon which they could not expect from the funds of the Corporation for many years to come. Then they had heard complaints from time to time for long past as to the want of a public library, which ■bould be free to the citizens ; and offers had even been made by the Athenseum to hand over to the Corporation the whole of their books if they would provide a suitable place and take the custody of the library. The reason why thi3 had not been done was because the Council feared it would entail an extra rate upon the citizens. This library building the gentlemen who no w approached the Council proposed to give, and there could be no doubt that the Athenrcum would hand their books over. The citizens would thus have a library provided, and that without any cost to themselves. This must be called a recreative purpose, so there could be no alienation of a reserve here, lhe promoters also proposed to erect a corn exchange and a freezing chamber, which would be of immense advantage to tradesmen receiving perishable articles. Although these things might not be recreative, they would undoubtedly supply a public want of considerable magnitude, and be a great boon to the body politic. He must decline at the present juncture to speak of details. The question was —was the scheme so good, or could it be made by alterations bo good, as to justify them in asking the Legislature for the necessary powers ? Everybody could be wise after the event, but the Council had been in possession of the Triangle for four or five years, and no one had had sufficient brains or activity of intelligence to propound such a scheme ; yet now, Decause someone had the brains to evolve a tangible scheme, a chorus of abuse was heard. In the first place, the Harbor Board, like the dog in the manger it always was, said they must have the revenue; someone else said LSOO rental was ridiculous, they must have L 5.000 ; and so on ad infinitum. It appeared to him that they might fairly ask the Legislature to give them power to deal with the reserve, under a certain trust, in such a way that the revenue should be spent on the other reserves. There was no man who would more jealously watch their reserves than he, or would put his foot down more strongly on what might be called an alienation of them. He contended, however, that this was not alienation, but utilisation of a reserve. It was a proposition that should be considered carefully, but the Council would be lacking in their duty to the citizens if they did not avail themselves of what he considered a brilliant idea. The details he was not now considering at all but was merely advocating the principle. Many modifications of the scheme might suggest themselves. It might, for instance, occur to the Council to make it a condition that after a certain number of years the whole property should revert to the Corporation. The promoters could easily provide a sinking fund by which this might be done. He could conceive that in the course of twenty-five years this ground for any purpose would be far more valuable than at present, and they had a right to recognise that. Cr Kimbell seconded the motion.

The Tows Clerk read the following letter from Mr A. Bathgate, hon. secretary to the Dunedin and Suburban Reserves Conservation Society :—*' The Town Clerk, Dunedin. Sir,—At a meeting of the Committee of the Dunedin and. Suburban Reserves Conservation Society the following resolution was passed, and I was instructed to forward you a copy :—' Resolved, that in the opinion of the Committee of this Society it is not desirable that the Triangle should be leased to any person or company ; and they would respectfully urge on the Council the desirability of "settling the question at once in order that there should be no delay in carrying out the improvements already arranged for, and for which the society has collected a considerable sum.' " Cr Kim dell moved that the letter be received, saying that he did not see that the Association could write in any other manner than they had done ; it was their business. Cr Fish seconded the motion, which was carried.

Cr Cohen said he had desired at an earlier stage to urge that what should be first discussed was the vital matter of principle, and that they were wasting time in discussing details meanwhile. The resolution was hardly fair, however, in that it asked the Council to deal with the principle, while keeping in the background the actual proposition that gave rise to it. The question had assumed a different shape since last meeting, because it was not now denied that the promoters of this scheme did look for a large measure of profit from extraneous sources. The citizens should know that. The proposal aho was to preserve the frontage to Rattray street, the most important part of the reserve, for letting purposes. He could not for the life of him believe that there was any chance that the Legislature, or the citizens behind them, would seriously contemplate allowing this reserve to be alienated and taken for building purposes. He agreed that a library and baths were recreativo purposes, but whether the citizens were agreeable to the proposed location of these was another thing. If he could go by the expressions he had heard in his own quarter of the City there was a large and important section of the citizens opposed to this proposition in the shape in which it stood. They said if it wa3 desirable to set aside the reserve for these purposes it should be thrown open to everyone in the colony to tender for if they chose. There should be men in the colony as willing and able to fulfilall these conditions as the gentlemen represented by Messrs Stanford and Milne, and who would give a much larger price than they offered. If the resolution had been moved in the form that the Council should affirm the desirability of the reserve being used for a market, and ask the Legislature to sanction its use for that purpose, he would willingly have supported it. He had alwaj'3 thought it a splendid site for a market, but he doubted very much whether the citizens would consent to its use for other purposes, some of which were of a purely speculative character. As to a public library, he was not at all sure that the Triangle would be a site that would commend itself to the citizens. Until he was satisfied that a substantial majority of the citizens favored the use of the reserve for purposes other than a market he would oppose the present and every offer of a similar kind to deal with it.

Cr Solomon asked whether Cr Fish would have any objection to accept a motion for the adjournment of the debate till Wednesday next. The question should not be rushed through under any circumstances.

Cr Fish offering no objection, Cr Solomon moved accordingly. Cr Sinclair supported the adjournment. Cr thought the adjournment yvvemature. He expressed the opinion that, although tho reserve was given them for a specific purpose, it might be properly utilised for the greater advantage of the citizens.

Cr Carroll thought tho prow course would be to say that the Council had no power at alt to grant a lease as requested : it would then be for them to move in the direction of obtaining power if they thought right. The Mayor said all the citizens had an equal claim upon these recreation reserves, and he therefore advocated the calling of a public meeting where the matter could be fully discussed, and that then a plebiscite of the citizens should be taken. They would then be sure that the matter had been fully considered on its merits. Cr Fish thought a public meeting would not be really a true test of the merits of the question, but the suggestion 'if a plebiscite was a good ore. The motion for the adjournment of the debate wa3 then put and carried.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890523.2.34

Bibliographic details

THE RAILWAY TRIANGLE., Evening Star, Issue 7914, 23 May 1889

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THE RAILWAY TRIANGLE. Evening Star, Issue 7914, 23 May 1889

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