Waimate stadium upgrade on again

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2012

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The ongoing stadium debate in Waimate has taken another turn.

Waimate District Council has opted to cease investigation work on a new facility and will once again focus on upgrading the existing facility.

The decision comes barely a month after the council announced it was looking at purchasing the Debonaire Furniture building on Shearman St to convert to a new sports facility.

Councillors met after the property manager sought legal confirmation on the status of the existing stadium and confirmed the current designation is in trust as a reserve for recreational purposes.

It denies the council the opportunity to realise any financial return from the property.

"While we may have future remedies around this designation, none of those possible remedies is able to be achieved during the time which we have to complete the consultation process with regard to the Debonaire building contract," Mayor John Coles said.

"Councillors have always said that the ratepayers in our district cannot afford to support two facilities and now that the existing stadium designation has been confirmed, establishing a new facility is no longer an option."

Mr Coles said councillors decided to stop investigative work and the special consultative process, withdraw from the agreement to purchase the Debonaire building, and instructed the property manager to focus on an upgrade of the existing stadium.

Meanwhile, Rotary has sought council endorsement to undertake responsibility on behalf of the council to provide a multi-sports facility to be sited next to the Norman Kirk Memorial Pool in William St. "While at first glance this may seem to be a simple solution to our stadium dilemma, the council cannot simply abdicate responsibility for a recreational facility which will ultimately become a ratepayer asset/liability," Mr Coles said.

"While Rotary states that funding for the project will be sought independent of council budgetary processes, this does not give confidence that ratepayers would not be called upon to provide funding to complete the project."

Waimate made a U-turn in June to stall the community centre development. Funding for the centre was put on hold after councillors voted in favour of adopting a flat rate rather than a graduated rate to pay for it.

A flat community rate of $22 has been adopted under the long-term plan, amounting to $80,000 a year for at least three years to be used to investigate the proposal.

Of the 350 submissions received on the long-term plan, 248 related to the community centre. Of those, 52 per cent were against and 37 per cent in favour of the development.

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- The Timaru Herald

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