Chewing gum users discarding their waste gum on the footpaths in Kaikohe's town centre have created an expensive clean-up headache for the Far North District Council.
Routine water-blasting has failed to remedy the problem and the council now faces a potential $40,000 bill to bring in contractors with a high-tech heat and pressure system to sort out the problem and to seal the bitumen footpaths with a special chemical.
The chemical seal system is designed to make gum removal easier in the future, but the real answer was to convince people not to discard their gum underfoot, council District Facilities team leader Mike Colebrook said.
"We have tried a number of different chemical methods over a number of years which have proved either ineffectual or very expensive, including supplying scrapers to young offenders.
"A further trial has been carried out on a small area with a company specialising in a new heat and pressure system. This time it looks like doing the trick. However, it's going to come at cost and there isn't enough money available to complete all the proposed CBD projects this year," Mr Colebrook said.
The town centre footpaths were water-blasted four times a year, but the gum and ingrained grime and mould had so far resisted clean-up attempts.
"The unresolved problem is really only the gum. The local business association has also asked for some further beautification work in the town centre and we'll be asking them where the immediate priority should lie - with the gum or the beautification," he said.