Oval drainage to cost $242,000

The Nelson City Council has reluctantly agreed to fork out an extra $242,000 to fix faulty drainage at the Saxton Cricket Oval.

The council's community services acting manager Hugh Kettlewell said not rectifying the problem might put Nelson at risk of losing 2015 Cricket World Cup matches.

The council received a report from New Zealand Cricket about "significant issues" with Saxton's ground drainage leading up to and during the January one-day match between the Black Caps and West Indies.

Many councillors were unhappy about the extra spending.

Councillor Tim Skinner said he struggled to justify spending $242,000 on the possibility of it raining for a cricket match, while the council was telling Brook camp residents the camp may be closed because of a $175,000 loss.

Councillor Kate Fulton said she was disappointed that more money needed to spent on the cricket ground as when the World Cup proposal came to the council "we were told that the cricket pitch was already at international standards and that there was nothing left to be done."

"I think nearly an additional half a million has been spent bringing it up to standard now. It is very disappointing when you go through a process and you are told it will cost a certain amount and then it goes up and up and up," she said.

Councillor Luke Acland said he supported the spending but with "regret" as councillors were being "painted into a corner".

They had not been given enough information and evidence about what caused the problem, if the council or contractor was at fault, and what the consequences of not fixing the drainage would be.

Councillor Pete Rainey said: ‘enough is enough with this facility". He questioned whether spending this new money was worth it considering it might not rain during the World Cup.

Mr Kettlewell told councillors he did not know if the fault lay with the council or the contractor and more investigation needed to be done, but in the meantime the drainage had to be fixed in order to prepare the turf for the World Cup. Even a week's delay could be time costly.

Mr Kettlewell said fixing the drainage was not just about international matches, but also for local use of the cricket oval.

A report to council said "the poor drainage of the outfield places the match under real jeopardy of being unplayable, despite sunshine, and good drying conditions on the afternoon and morning of the game".

Deputy mayor Paul Matheson said it was important to be "pragmatic for future events at Saxton Oval".

Mayor Rachel Reese said it was critical for the cricket pitch to have working drainage. She supported the spending with "a degree of disturbance".

Works and infrastructure committee chairman, councillor Eric Davy, said council staff will look into what caused the drainage problems and a report will come back to the committee.

"These repairs are absolutely critical and a priority - if we don't do this work we risk our ability to host international matches and that is simply not an option," he said.

It was likely that last April's floods may have exacerbated the drainage situation, he said.

Repairs include replacing the drainage system, relaying the turf, and fixing discharge pipes and connecting them to the stormwater system and will begin in mid-April.

The Nelson Mail