Council considers selling off parks

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2013
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The Invercargill City Council may sell off almost 32 hectares of its parks during an overhaul of its reserves network.

The proposal was revealed in the council's draft parks strategy, prepared by Xyst Consultancy during the past 12 months and presented at the infrastructure and services committee meeting yesterday.

The draft strategy was non-binding and was only a vision for the future of Invercargill parks but could help shape the council's long-term plans.

Parks manager Robin Pagan said a provisional list of parks and reserves which could be sold, totalling 31.8 hectares, was included in the strategy.

"It's [parks] in areas where there's no growth and we can't foresee there being growth for a huge number of years."

Parks and reserves in areas where there were more popular or better-equipped reserves nearby were also being considered for disposal, he said.

There were a number of things to work through before the strategy could be put into practice, such as the status of land derived from the Crown, which could not be easily sold.

However, Mayor Tim Shadbolt raised concerns about public reaction to selling off park land.

"The minute you sell a reserve . . . a huge rally cry goes out and people will fight."

The strategy also recommended the council spend an extra $1.1 million in the next decade to upgrade those parks and reserves it was not considering selling off.

Some reserves required upgrades of playground, toilet, or car park amenities, while others needed park signs replaced.

Part of the $1.1m needed for the upgrade would be re-allocated from other areas of the parks budget, Mr Pagan said.

Compared with other centres in New Zealand, Invercargill was lacking in quality neighbourhood parks, he said. "Some of these small neighbourhood parks aren't quite big enough to fulfil the communities' activities."

The parks identified for potential sale were in areas where there were already sufficient neighbourhood parks, or growth was not expected in those areas.

The strategy also identified a "hole" in Windsor where there was a notable lack of neighbourhood parks.

The idea to sell off parks was previously mooted in the council's Big Picture DVD, released in 2011.

In the DVD, Mr Shadbolt said Invercargill might have an oversupply of small neighbourhood parks and the council was investigating if any of them should be "rationalised".

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