A $420,000 ratepayer-funded boardwalk has been proposed for one of Tauranga's beauty spots to reduce the wear and tear on the grassed harbour foreshore.
The Tauranga City Council yesterday backed the plan to replace the dusty trail that passed for a path along Pilot Bay.
Cr Rick Curach described the area between the beach and the road as "not a pleasant look".
The project will be open to public submissions next March as part of the council's 10-year plan.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said it could become a contentious issue, judging by the hostility to a boardwalk from the local community during the preparation of Pilot Bay's management plan about 16 years ago. "I think we will get quite a strong response."
The grassed foreshore was worn out and the increasing popularity of Pilot Bay meant it was not able to recover enough in the off-season.
Mr Crosby said it was time the council bit the bullet and built a boardwalk. It should be narrower and simpler than other city boardwalks because the green space was the most important feature of Pilot Bay.
"It will allow the green space to come back to life and provide the picnicking area that is most valuable."
Cr Larry Baldock said a boardwalk was the best option and that Pilot Bay was the front door for the cruise ships which would increase from 80 this season to 100 next year. Passengers walked along Pilot Bay to reach Mauao and then did the circuit back to the Mount Maunganui shopping centre.
Cr Tony Christiansen said he was at Pilot Bay on Monday when two big cruise ships were in town and saw about 2500 passengers walking down the beach. And when the ships departed, about 1500 people were lined up on the beach to watch them go. Mr Christiansen, who is in a wheelchair, unsuccessfully tried to convince the council to have a concrete path, saying boardwalks were difficult and uncomfortable for people in chairs.
Cr David Stewart said the council had been fighting a losing battle to keep the grass together and that times had changed since the management plan was drawn up for Pilot Bay.
"If we are going to do something, we should do it well," Mr Stewart said.
The other options were the status quo, turf enhancement using a plastic mesh ($90,000), a gravel path ($145,000) and a concrete path ($175,000). Concrete had a 50-year life and the boardwalk a 20-year life.