Refusing to leave

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Staying put . . . Mosgiel Caravan Park manager and tenant Richard Wallis is refusing to leave his home despite its impending closure. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Mosgiel Caravan Park tenant is refusing to leave after being told the park will close.

Park manager and tenant Richard Wallis said he, his wife and cat had lived in the park for nearly 10 years.

They wanted to stay despite being told they would have to leave the Memorial Park site by April next year.

The Dunedin City Council gave tenants a letter telling them the council-owned caravan park would be closed to enable a new swimming pool to be built.

Mr Wallis said he had told the council he was refusing to leave.

“They’ll have to come in and move me.”

Since the letter was received, the council had suggested his family move their caravan to Waihola or Milton.

But living that far south would be too costly for them to get to their respective workplaces in central Dunedin, he said.

As manager at Eastcoast Passenger Services, he worked a split shift and needed to get to central Dunedin to drive staff to Macraes in the early morning and late afternoon.

Between shifts, he returned home for a sleep, he said.

The caravan park tenants were “gutted” to learn they needed to find a new home, he said.

The park had capacity for 18 caravans. About a third of the spots were for casual tenants and the rest were permanent residents.

The caravan park was needed as there was a lack of social housing in Mosgiel, Mr Wallis said.

He had taken calls from construction firms seeking spots to park a caravan for builders set to work on projects across Dunedin.

The callers were “dumbfounded” when told the facility was set to close.

If Memorial Park was not an option for a caravan park, the council could investigate relocating it to Seddon Park Velodrome in Mosgiel, he said.

“Mosgiel needs a motorcamp.”

Mr Wallis wanted to make it clear the tenants supported the pool project.

The trust behind the project, Taieri Community Facilities Trust, made a submission to the council’s annual plan consultation in April.

In the submission, trust chairwoman Irene Mosley said:

“The trust believes it would be extremely unfair if as a result of the financial support the community has given to the pool, we may risk losing a particularly good, well utilised council-owned camping facility in the process.”

Council parks and recreations group manager Robert West said the council had not issued eviction notices.

“We have announced the site of the new pool,” Mr West said.

“The site was the preferred site of the council in April 2017 and the site preferred by the community in consultation we help in 2016.

“As a result, we expect the caravan park will need to close by April 2021.”

The function of Peter Johnstone and Memorial Parks was for sports and recreation, and not for accommodation, Mr West said.

“We acknowledge this is a stressful time for some of the caravan park residents and we continue to work with residents to assist in finding alternative accommodation for them before April 2021.”