Park revamp threatens community hub

SHATTERED: Community Art Works co-ordinator Faye Wulff outside the arts centre that may have to move as part of a redevelopment.
SHATTERED: Community Art Works co-ordinator Faye Wulff outside the arts centre that may have to move as part of a redevelopment.

A Nelson community hub is being threatened by redevelopment plans for the Rutherford and Trafalgar Parks.

The City of Nelson Highland Pipe Band Hall, the Nelson Community Arts Centre, the Barton Range for the Nelson Smallbore Rifle Association, and the Nelson petanque club pitch may be demolished to make way for the Maitai walkway, a children's playground, and a road to the Trafalgar Centre as part of the council's redevelopment plans for the area.

The council decided last July to go ahead with plans to stage the development over 10 to 20 years.

Drum Major for the City of Nelson Highland Pipe Band, Ian McEwan, said the council met the group last week about the plans.

"Basically the band room is apparently in the way of the grand plan of the walkway," he said.

"They are talking about pulling us down. We'll be without a home."

The Paru Paru Rd building only meets 11 per cent of the national building standards and must be brought up to standard by 2034. Wooden bracing has been attached to one wall.

The band also used the petanque pitch for marching.

McEwan said compensation was being discussed. He believed new accommodation should be provided so "we can actually carry on with our activities because the band is 90 years old. It's been working with the Nelson community for that long".

Community Art Works co-ordinator Faye Wulff said it was "a bit shattering" to hear the news after being in the arts centre for 11 years.

She was unsure when they would have to leave the building, but thought it could be within two years.

The centre had between 200-300 people through it each week and Wulff questioned the redevelopment process. The Maitai walkway left little room for a road to the Trafalgar Centre, meaning a new one was needed.

"It's just crazy stuff," she said.

Wulff said potential issues had been raised before with the council, but "I don't think any of us were listened to".

"I hear what they say for the park and their vision for it, but people have been using this corner for a long time," she said. "I understand they want all this new stuff, but people are affected."

Wulff queried whether the council could put a proposed road around the buildings, and said there was talk of moving the community arts centre to near The Refinery on Halifax St, but she had heard no more about this.

She had been talking to councillor Pete Rainey about the situation.

Rainey said nothing had been set in stone.

"Whatever happens in terms of the rollout of that plan over the years I personally think council does have a responsibility to make sure there are good outcomes for those community groups already using space on Rutherford Park," he said.

"Obviously the proximity of the pipe band building to the new Maitai walkway project has brought that into consideration and I can't comment any more than that because we actually haven't discussed it any further than that. There is nothing firm as yet."

Nelson Smallbore Rifle Association president Alan Gibbs said the association had been there since the early 1950s and would like to stay, but was "pretty flexible" if it had to move as long as the council helped out.

"We may have to relocate at some stage, we don't want to, like it's a pretty big effort for us to shift buildings," he said.

Gibbs said a shooting range needed an enclosed site with good lighting and out of the way of people since firearms were moved in and out of it.

He also said there needed to be more communication from the council about what it was planning for the area.

A council spokeswoman said the council had signalled its intention, through the Trafalgar and Rutherford Parks development plan, to work with sports and community groups which lease buildings in both parks to either relocate or share facilities where possible as the development progressed.

Some leaseholders had already gone onto annual leases while others would not have to reconsider their leases until 2020.

The council expected to start talks with the tenants to understand their needs and any changes to the plan would be subject to funding being made available through the council's Long Term Plan.