Wellingtonian editorial: Another stand for the Basin!

Last updated 05:00 28/07/2011

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The four Basin Reserve trustees must be feeling pleased after their maneuverings of the past week.

OPINION: In one swoop they seem to have convinced the New Zealand Transport Agency to pay for a new grandstand at the Basin Reserve, and to have taken the wind right out of the sails of the Save the Basin brigade.

The small group of Save the Basin campaigners have never been upfront enough about their objectives.

Their primary concern has always appeared to be to get as many cars as possible off the road.

By extension they do not want roads built, preferring the money to be spent on public transport options such as light rail.

But instead of fronting a politically suicidal campaign called Ban Cars, they chose the more emotive Save the Basin, their logic being that a major road linking Buckle St to the Mt Victoria Tunnel would have a detrimental impact on the sportsmen doing their thing at the Basin.

The news that the Basin Reserve trustees had negotiated for a grandstand to be built at the northern end of the ground leaves these campaigners in a quandary.

Through gritted teeth, they must now profess to being pleased the cricketers will be spared much of the noise and pollution from cars using the new road.

At best it is a Pyrrhic victory for the campaigners.

It seems remarkable that the trustees have been able to convince NZTA to spend $11 million-plus on another grandstand for the Basin Reserve.

There were headlines to this effect last week, although when The Wellingtonian spoke to NZTA this week it was at pains to state things were not yet set in stone.

The Basin trustees talk about needing new dressing rooms, and getting the ground up to International Cricket Council requirements.

There is talk that a row of corporate hospitality boxes could be installed in a new stand.

But corporate boxes, international cricket regulations and upgraded dressing rooms should not be any concern of the transport agency.

Is there a better way to spend upwards of $11m of taxpayers' money, than on a third grandstand for a cricket ground that is virtually never full, hosts no international one-day cricket any more and only one or two test matches a year?

It appears that despite the fact public submissions are still being invited, NZTA has narrowed its options for the road from Buckle St to the tunnel to two, both flyovers.

They are the cheapest of the half-dozen or so that it considered, but have little else to recommend them.

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Most people feel trenching the road would be most desirable.

It would be the best visually, and possibly the most effective.

If NZTA is genuinely still interested in receiving public feedback, The Wellingtonian urges it to consider the Architecture Centre's Option X, which has surfaced only in the past few days, and which we feature on our front page.

This plan involves some trenching, though not a prohibitive amount; includes plenty of green space and seems to meet most of the NZTA requirements.

It would be a pity if, after all this time, the wrong option was chosen in haste – even if it did mean a third grandstand for the Basin.

- The Wellingtonian

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