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Drains drama

ADRIAN EVANS
Last updated 08:05 03/10/2012
Karaka Sports Park

THE PLAN: An artist’s impression of the Karaka Sports Park development.

Karaka Sports Park
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Karaka Sports Trust chairman Roger Mcrae says drainage is ‘‘critical’’ if work already done on the sports field is not to be compromised.

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A funding shortfall means new grounds at the Karaka Sports Park are at risk of being lost if drainage isn't in place by Christmas.

Karaka Sports Park Trust chairman Roger Mcrae says $1.5 million, as agreed by Auckland Council and other parties, was spent on the first stage of the development. But another $420,000 is needed immediately to keep the work intact.

"If we don't get the subsoil drainage in on the new fields there is a risk of those fields deteriorating. So it's critical that we get it in.

"It's got to be done this summer, ideally before Christmas, so that the fields will be available for reasonable use next winter."

New cricket pitches are yet to be installed and it's not certain they'll be available for use this season, he says. "Possibly not.”

The Franklin District Council bought 13 hectares of land next to the sports complex in 2007 with the intention of building a large-scale sports and recreation hub.

The initial three-stage plan was to add four new fields, upgrade the existing turf and build new clubrooms and facilities.

But with only $1.5m in the purse and no further financial support from the Auckland Council the project is $2.8m short of finishing.

Karaka Sports Park Trust committee chairman Steve Gellert says the latest setback will affect 1500 people in five sporting codes.

"We've hit a brick wall. It's extremely frustrating - we can't find anyone at the council who can tell us how they make these [funding] decisions.

"It's supposed to be a joint venture but the reality is it doesn't make any sense."

He's especially concerned there's no mention of the park funding in the Auckland Council's long-term plan.

"Why would you spend $1.5m on it if you can't use it? We've got some very nice looking fields but we can't utilise them because as soon it gets wet they become unusable."

But Franklin Local Board chairman Andrew Baker is disappointed by the comments and says "the message isn't getting through to the sporting codes".

"It certainly hasn't stalled, it's just not going at the pace that some people would like to see it go. We're restricted by money."

The board is "working its butt off" to get the fields operational "as soon as possible".

"There was only a set amount of money that the [Karaka Sports Park] trust knew about in the budget and they agreed that we would do work to a standard that could be afforded with that money.

"Since then we have been working our butts off to find the extra funding from within existing budgets because no new money was accorded to the project through the long-term plan process, which was disappointing."

"Four new fields is better than two old ones and with good management it would at least relieve some pressure."

Auckland Council asset manager Colin Field confirms that six new playing surfaces were completed before this winter season.

"The turf will ‘grow in' over the next few months and we anticipate the fields will be ready for limited use next winter.

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"Drainage for the fields is currently being planned and we expect it will be installed on two of the new playing fields over the summer months.

"The cricket block will be completed over the next month for use this summer," he says.

- Papakura Courier

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