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Field upgrades won't solve shortages

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014

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Upgrades of two major parks will give sports fans something to cheer about but they won't be the answer to Albert-Eden's playing field shortage.

The Albert-Eden Local Board is consulting residents on the redevelopment of Nixon Park and Fowlds Park. So far the projects are at the concept plan stage but would include installing artificial turfs and upgrading facilities.

The whole of Central Auckland has a severe shortage of sport fields and the Albert-Eden Local Board ward is one of the region's most lacking.

Over the next decade the Auckland Council is investing $190 million in upgrading parks and installing artificial turfs to make fields more available throughout the year.

The Albert-Eden Local Board has been allotted $12m but Fowlds Park and Nixon Park are the only two of its eight sports parks suitable for upgrades.

"We can't actually spend the funding," board chairman Peter Haynes says. "Our problem is we don't have many sports fields that we can upgrade and those we do have tend to be in small parks, very close to the neighbours.

" If you spend $1m to fit an artificial turf you need to put in lighting so they can be used in the evening.

"Of course, people living close to the boundary don't necessarily want lights on all evening with people shouting and carrying on."

The need to provide space for general recreation rather than just sports adds another challenge. Projections show that even with the upgrades there will continue to be a large shortfall in the ward over the next decade.

The Mt Albert Lions Rugby League Club is based at Fowlds Park. The club has around 300 members and president Jason Sutton says the fields are closed 25 to 30 per cent of the time in the winter. "We are 100 per cent behind the plans," he says.

A meeting about the Fowlds Park plan is being held on Saturday, from 10am to noon beside the Mt Albert Lions Rugby League clubrooms at 50 Western Springs Rd. A meeting about the Nixon Park plan is on February 8, from 10am to noon at the Lacrosse clubrooms, 11 Central Rd, Kingsland.

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