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Sports field at reserve controversial

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014
Sandra McGill
Rose Cawley
PARK PROBLEMS: Eastern Beach Action Network member Sandra McGill is concerned about the rezoning of a field at Macleans Park.
Rezone
REZONE CONCERN: The land being rezoned from informal recreation to active recreation is the bright green rectangle.

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Is Macleans Park slowly being chipped away at by Auckland Council?

Eastern Beach Action Network member Sandra McGill thinks so.

She says the council's latest plan to rezone part of the reserve from informal recreation to active recreation could be a slippery slope.

"I think the rezoning will have an impact. It could lead to more of the park being changed over."

She says the field in question was part of a land swap with Macleans College in 1999.

"The swap in the first place was questionable. If the school is now getting most of the use and even controlling, dominating the land that it gave to the park then that was not a fair swap."

Mrs McGill says the sports field does not benefit the community.

"For public organised sport you have to have facilities, toilets and changing rooms and the council does not have them."

"It means if the school owns those facilities the school controls the park - it is hardly a public park if the school controls it."

Macleans College principal Byron Bentley says a shared use agreement between the council and school works well.

"We are usually vacated by 5pm, we are hardly out there during the day unless there is a PE class," he says. "It is all for a good cause, we have a lot of kids involved in good healthy recreation."

He says the park is an important part of the school's identity.

"We are a community school in a park and I think we have stuck to that principle for 35 years and nothing is going to change. There are no boundaries, no fences.

"We expect and it doesn't concern us that members of the public walk across all of our ground."

He says the park is there for everyone to enjoy.

Council parks manager Malcolm Page says the land has always been used for active recreation.

"Active recreation is the appropriate zoning for a sports field so the proposed Unitary Plan is taking the opportunity to apply the correct zoning and one that is consistent with its use," he says.

"So in that sense there will be no change in use because it has always been a sports field."

Mr Page says because of the location and size of the land, the field will only ever be used for junior overflow games.

"It could not accommodate clubrooms. Floodlights could potentially be put on the park if there was demand for training on winter evenings."

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"However, the development of William Green Domain artificial turf makes this highly unlikely."

- Eastern Courier

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