Public land should stay public

FIRST PLAN: The original National Ocean Watersports Centre building.
FIRST PLAN: The original National Ocean Watersports Centre building.

EDITORIAL: We've been thinking, and channelling our festive thoughts around the National Ocean Watersports Centre.

In particular an accusation in a local magazine that this newspaper "constantly supports" negativity.

This negativity, according to the magazine, comes from a group of Takapuna residents "focused on doing everything they can" to prevent "exciting" things for Takapuna.

That is nonsense.

Around half of the 1200 submissions to the Auckland Council plan which included the NOWSC proposal opposed it. About 250 of the submissions in favour were on a pro forma document distributed by Yachting NZ.

But the council counted a 2000-signature petition to save keep the holiday park as just one submission.

Those numbers add up to one very big group of "negative" people given that Takapuna's population is only 4000.

At this point, let me say that the North Shore Times is not against a National Ocean Watersports Centre in Takapuna.

The original proposal for The Strand next to Takapuna Boating Club was "exciting", architecturally stylish, and logically placed next to an existing small boat ramp.

The new proposal looks to be a bit of an eyesore and is awkwardly placed for launching boats. There is also one enormous hurdle: It would be on land owned by the public, a reserve.

And that is the focus of much of the backlash from a large group of "negative" people.

The closure, or otherwise, of the holiday park is something of a red herring. It is of course on the reserve itself but has been for decades and is a much-used public (a key word) facility. Anyone can camp there. And if it is closed, it should become a park, that anyone can enjoy.

Will "anyone" be able to use the NOWSC?

Well, maybe and only up to a point. And that access would be more than offset by congestion at the public boat ramp.

Probably of greatest concern is the unseen hand at work here.

Unseen, that is, until reporter Marnie Hallahan shed some light on it. Her stories have shown that the process has been unseemly, in particular the relationship between Auckland Council and the Harbour Access Trust.

Interestingly, the publisher of the magazine that has criticised this newspaper, calling us "traditional local media", has close connections to the trust.

Mea culpa. The North Shore Times is proud to embrace this traditional value of our parent company, Fairfax Media: "Through our work we challenge the powerful and empower those who face challenges."

North Shore Times