Council to cancel funds for artificial pitch

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 09:53 23/01/2014

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The Wellingtonian

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Tawa sports clubs are disappointed the suburb may miss out on a public artificial turf, with the council calling time out on such plans.

In the 2014-15 draft annual plan it is proposed to remove the $1.045 million allocated in the budget for an artificial field in the northern suburb.

Tawa College has an artificial pitch, but there are none available for public use.

Community, sport and recreation committee chairman Paul Eagle said a region- wide report was done into the placement of artificial sports fields.

"It concluded that placing one in Tawa was not the best use of our money or efforts," he said. "There is no disputing that the people of Tawa would use it, so it's not a slight on them.

"It was more that Porirua is building them up the road, so if we are to use money and be smart about it, we should put one in the western area."

Tawa Football Club president Mike Wood said the club was disappointed.

"It smacks of political involvement, especially as Karori Park (in the west) had over $3m invested in it a few years ago and more spent correcting the problems," he said.

"In the meantime, the southern area of Wellington has been well served with artificial surfaces at both council and college- owned facilities.

"We have felt for many years that Tawa has been overlooked in the provision of suitable grounds for football. We have 12 men's teams and two women's teams and only one local ground to play on [Redwood Park].

"The Tawa Central League team has regularly played up to four of its nine home games away because of the state of the ground.

"If an artificial surface is not to be installed in Tawa, significant improvement in drainage to Redwood and Grenada would go some way to improving the situation."

Tawa Rugby Club president Allan Davidson had similar concerns.

"There isn't an artificial field in the area," he said. "Rugby and football is really affected by it.

"Not having one really impacts the training. We have a gym, but when you have more than one team in there, it's not so crash-hot."

The Wellington Region Sports Field Strategy did not recommend an artificial turf in Tawa because two of them had been laid in Porirua and there was one under construction at Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville.

However, the council has received complaints that the geographical spread of the fields around the city are uneven.

Most of the fields are in the south and east of the city - St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie; Wellington College, Wakefield Park Berhampore (two); Te Whaea Mt Cook; and Nairnville Park, Khandallah.

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"People have said it doesn't look fair," Mr Eagle said. "But that wasn't the intention. Rather than all the councils individually responding to requests and plopping them wherever, we looked at it regionally.

"Also St Patrick's College and Wellington College came to us and helped with the cost," he said. "We have to be consistent in our policy. If Tawa clubs or schools did the same then we should be supporting that."

Mr Eagle said he would be happy to support an alternate plan for Tawa, such as upgraded drainage.

If the money is removed, the decision will be reviewed in the 2017/18 annual plan deliberations, after the impact of the new turfs in Porirua is assessed.

The draft annual plan goes out for public consultation next month.

- The Wellingtonian

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