Editorial: Commit on stadium

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 07:29 06/03/2014

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New Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley is making all the right noises over a Waimate Stadium upgrade.

"It's now or never," he told a meeting on Monday night, with the emphasis on "now".

A month for feedback, a decision a month after that, construction if approved starting in October and a new-look stadium by mid-way through next year.

The project needs that urgency, given various incarnations of an upgrade or new facility have been discussed for 10 years.

And sure, not everyone will like it. With a ratepayer base of 4700 the $3.5 million to $3.8 million price tag is hefty. Worse case scenario, an increase in the stadium rate from $22 to $88 per ratepayer, or $1.70 a week. That will come down if outside funding or grants can be secured, and surely that's a possibility. There will also be a responsibility for some fundraising by users.

It's true too that whatever the cost now it will never be cheaper, so the sooner it's built the better.

People also need to move beyond the "I'll never use it" mentality. Communities would never have libraries, museums, parks or swimming pools if that was the case.

Mr Rowley is right. This is a community facility. It's for the general good of everyone. To put it crudely, if kids aren't playing basketball or the like they might be kicking over letterboxes. It's something for people to be proud of.

The council should be open to feedback that tweaks or enhances the proposal, but be wary of suggestions of complete reviews, of alternative sites.

Those debates have been had. There appears to be a groundswell of support for a rebuild of the existing facility. It's time to take the plunge. And the mayor is providing the leadership.

Another way to look at it is to consider what might happen if nothing is done. An existing facility that falls further into disrepair and eventual redundancy, bad feeling and bickering within the community, and a price tag for a new facility that really is unrealistic.

To repeat Mr Rowley's line: "It's now or never."

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- The Timaru Herald

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