Anger as rec centre plan put off

CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
Last updated 13:00 26/02/2014

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Golden Bay residents supporting a proposed new multi-purpose recreation centre are disappointed that the Tasman District Council has voted against funding the centre this year.

The council has axed the facility in this year's proposed annual plan and deferred it to its long term plan. It will hold a community consultation meeting in Golden Bay on Friday for feedback.

The proposed recreation centre would be developed at the Golden Bay Recreation Ground, commonly known as the Golden Bay A&P showgrounds.

Supporters hoped building would begin this year. However, the council has announced a series of funding cuts and deferrals, including the proposed new centre.

Founding member of the Golden Bay Shared Recreation Facility Incorporated Society Peter Blasdale said he was disappointed to discover funding had been "axed" for "one of the most remote TDC wards".

He said "a very enthusiastic committee" had been working on the project on behalf of a large proportion of the Golden Bay community for the past 3 years.

"Building was due to commence later this year. Clubs have poured their time and effort into this project, at the expense of pursuing individual temporary fixes."

Mr Blasdale said the committee had already "quite successfully" been working with funding agencies to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and that they were about to start approaching larger businesses to generate more support.

"Other relatively expensive projects have been completed or are still going to be carried out in other wards within TDC. They were fortunately for them, higher up the list or looked upon more favourably than Golden Bay's desperately needed facility," he said.

However, Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne said all funding hadn't been cut, but the decision about whether to fund the facility had been "deferred".

"The $3.5 million capital for the council to fund the building costs has been deferred for a discussion in the long term plan," he said.

He said the discussion would be happening from the end of this year through until April next year, with decisions being made in May and June next year.

"There are two competing themes here. One is an acknowledgement that this is Golden Bay's time for a facility, the other is that where possible council is trying to reduce its reliance on debt.

"It's really important that people in Golden Bay give their opinion to council through this year's annual plan about whether they would rather have council support building the building, but increasing debt by $3.5 million, or whether they would like us not to spend the money and not incur any debt."

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The Golden Bay Shared Recreation Facility Incorporated Society chairman Dean Lund he was "extremely disappointed" about the news but the group would be submitting to the annual plan again.

He said he hoped the project would be reinstated due to its "overwhelming community support".

He encouraged supporters to attend the council consultation on Friday to express support for the concept plan.

Golden Bay ward councillor Martine Bouillir did not attend last Wednesday's council meeting but said she would have voted against the decision to take the proposed facility out of this year's annual plan.

She said it had not been an easy decision for councillors to make. "We are cutting things left right and centre to bring down debt, which is what ratepayers want. However, this group have worked hard for years, funders are lined up and Golden Bay has been paying into the district facilities fund for over 10 years.

"I don't think it will ever happen if it is deferred to the long term plan so I would like to see this project back in the annual plan so that the community can make the call on whether they want it or not. People need to submit to keep this option open for the Bay."

Golden Bay councillor Paul Sangster voted to keep the proposed facility in the annual plan.

The draft annual plan 2014-2015 is to be released for public consultation on March 15.

Council staff will be available to hear from the public at the Golden Bay A&P showgrounds on Friday, 2.30pm-4pm.

- Nelson

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