The Dunedin Tunnels Trail Trust is calling on the community to help it raise the last funds needed to purchase the property providing access to the disused Chain Hills rail tunnel that connects Abbotsford to Wingatui. The deadline for confirming the purchase is the end of April.
The Trust is within $10,000 of being able to confirm the purchase and has finalised details for the easement over the adjoining property. The Chain Hills Tunnel is a vital part of the Trust’s goal to provide a safe and appealing walking and cycling track from Dunedin to the Taieri Plains.
Being so close to the target price for the first stage of the project gives the Trust strong hope that it can attract enough community support and donations to get over the line. Confirmation that the Trust can put Dunedin City Council grant funds for the project towards the property purchase has boosted the Trust’s confidence that it will reach its target.
Trust Chair Gerard Hyland says, "We have been very pleased with the ongoing support through loans and donations direct to the Trust and through the Givealittle page. Confirmation that the grant funds set aside a number of years ago to progress the project by the DCC can be used for the purchase means that we are almost there."
The DCC’s Acting Group Manager Transport Richard Saunders says, "The DCC is very supportive of the Trust’s ambitions to create a walking and cycling connection between the central city and the Taieri Plains. As well as providing funding through the grant, we will continue to work with the Trust as it endeavours to secure the necessary access and begin developing plans for the trail."
The Trust is putting the auctions of the naming rights for the portals on hold. Mr Hyland says the naming rights are valuable given they will be incorporated into maps and other memorabilia, but the Trust will focus on selling the gold supporter plaques so as to finalise the purchase next week.
Given growing public momentum and interest from trusts that could not assist with the land purchase due to time constraints, the Trust hopes to start on development of the trail infrastructure itself within months.
With University of Otago students already working on the easement surveys, the Trust will be looking at divesting most of the land later in the year and then concentrating on trail development.
"These are exciting times, but there is still plenty of work to do," says Mr Hyland.
Offers of assistance for the Chain Hills property purchase can be made by contacting the Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org, and donations can be made online at the Givealittle page https://givealittle.co.nz/org/dttt/.
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