Hard questions on watersports centre

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 09:43 12/03/2013
Chris Darby
Chris Darby.
David Abercrombie
David Abercrombie.

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This Thursday the fate of the Takapuna beach reserve will be decided.

For the past nine months the future of this prime public land has hung in the balance.

For 80 years it has been home to the iconic Takapuna Beach Holiday Park.

But Auckland Council announced plans last July to close down the campground and replace a portion of the land with a National Ocean Watersports Centre, catering for Yachting New Zealand offices, high performance athletes, and boat storage.

And so the debate began.

More than 1200 submissions were received on the draft Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan.

The crux of the argument has been whether to allow a private enterprise the use of public land.

Alongside this have run claims of an undemocratic process and concerns that Auckland Council's plans for the area are already a "fait accompli".

The hearings panel charged with this weighty decision is independent commissioner Greg Hill along with local board members Chris Darby, Dianne Hale, Jan O'Connor, Kevin Schwass and Joseph Bergin.

Here the North Shore Times looks back at the most memorable quotes from the long-running saga and asks the hard questions.

The panel will deliberate in public on Thursday from 6pm in the Takapuna Council chamber.

THEY SAID IT

Chris Darby (Pictured), local board chairman, July 12, 2012, days after management plan is released: "There may be people who are disappointed with this decision [to remove the campground and accommodate the National Ocean Watersports Centre]. But there are many demands on this precious piece of land."

David Abercrombie (Pictured), Yachting New Zealand chief executive, July 19, 2012: "We're not just setting up offices so we can swan about by the beach."

James Young, renowned boat builder, September 6, 2012: "Yachting NZ does not physically run yacht racing. Its function is almost entirely clerical and there is absolutely no need to be by the water."

Margaret Field, Environment Takapuna, October 26, 2012: "We don't just want the scraps that are left over after offices and parking. Once it's gone we can never get the open space back."

Peter Miskimmin, Sport NZ chief executive, October 26, 2012: "Just look at the last Olympic Games to see how important high performance is for our sports. Lake Karapiro shows how important it is to have a training environment together with the high performance facilities."

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Martin Lawes, former chairman of the Takapuna Community Board, November 1, 2012: "We know Takapuna is disadvantaged in terms of public space. Why are we being Santa Claus to a selective group and not catering to the masses?"

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Who made the final decision that the original site for the NOWSC on The Strand was no longer appropriate and why?

Why did Auckland Council officers work to "convince" the local board to only include two options in the plan, both of which included the NOWSC and removed the campground?

Why did the local board agree to this with full knowledge that there was historical public expectation that the entire reserve be returned to open space should the holiday park be closed?

Is there pressure to get this project approved being put on council officers by Minister of Sport Murray McCully, who has promised $3 million of government money to the project?

Should the panel give weight to the overwhelming public sentiment to "save the campground" as seen in online campaigns, petitions and within the submissions?

Why was a petition of over 2000 signatures only counted as one submission when each of the 250 generic Yachting NZ submissions were counted individually?

If the NOWSC was to be included in the reserve managment plan could it still be turned down through the resource consent process?

Where will the council recoup the $161,000 per year that the campground currently pay in rental fees. Will Yachting NZ have to pay rent?

If the community storage space was to go ahead - should Yachting NZ run this space and will it be free?

Is reserve land an appropriate place to put an office building housing 27 staff?

 


- © Fairfax NZ News

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