Trafalgar's closure a 'game changer' for park proposal

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 27/01/2014

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A group wants to turn Trafalgar Park into a thriving venue, but its ambitions are on hold until the Nelson City Council makes a decision on the future of the Trafalgar Centre.

The Trafalgar Park Sports and Recreation Group represents 11 sport and community bodies with an interest in the development of the park.

It recently told the city council that it wanted a similar partnership with the council as that which helped to develop Saxton Field, and that each participant in the group had committed funding towards the project.

The group wants a new consolidated facility at Trafalgar Park. Chairman Barry Rowe said the end goal was the redevelopment of the area where the old, eastern grandstand is now, into a facility that could be used by many groups.

Mr Rowe said there was interest from squash and rugby codes in building clubrooms.

Rifle and darts organisations and Nelson City Brass, which currently operates from rooms in Hathaway Tce, were also keen, he said.

It follows moves made earlier last year by former Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio, who had been in talks with commercial property specialists and developers to assess whether "surplus" land around Trafalgar Park could be sold for other uses.

Mr Miccio had proposed selling council land to fund the construction of a new eastern grandstand, costing up to $12 million and with seating for 2000 to 5000 people, depending on affordability. The concept at that stage had not had input from other elected members of the council.

Mr Rowe said the Trafalgar Park Sports and Recreation Group made a presentation to the council in December, before the sudden decision to close the Trafalgar Centre, which had been a "game changer".

Nelson's main civic venue is now classified as an earthquake-prone building because its seismic rating falls well below current building standards.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the council was awaiting further information to decide to what degree the centre had to be strengthened, and the cost.

It was also faced with the prospect of having to demolish the building, but salvage was possible, depending on a review under way of government rules relating to earthquake-prone buildings and health and safety regulations, she said.

Saxton Stadium is being used as an immediate temporary venue for groups and organisations displaced by the Trafalgar Centre's closure.

Mr Rowe said there were now a lot more sports groups with no venue, which were looking for a decision from the council as to whether the centre would be upgraded.

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Legislation on buildings and earthquake-prone buildings and health and safety was under review, which would give greater clarity on strengthening requirements, Ms Reese said recently.

Mr Rowe said it would be good to have all the sports and community groups that were currently "scattered" around neighbouring Rutherford Park brought under one roof.

"[The proposal] was getting positive feedback, but then the game has changed."

He said the next step would be to try to get the project included in the council's Long Term Plan annual budgeting exercise.

Community services chairman Pete Rainey said the council did not yet have a position on the proposal, but it was a good idea to put it on the draft annual plan radar, which would create an opportunity for it to go out for public submissions.

"That would be the appropriate way to go.

"It's a relatively significant project they're talking about, and my personal feeling is it's great, especially that it would be a combined effort."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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