Model park's wings clipped by council

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014

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A bid to build a model park in South Waikato has been denied funding despite hundreds of pledges of support from offshore enthusiasts.

Tokoroa aviator Bruce Simpson's proposal to the South Waikato District Council to build a park at the Tokoroa Airfield was turned down.

Through his YouTube channels the electrical engineer has been promoting the idea and has been swamped with support worldwide.

By January this year he had received more than 600 emails from strangers pledging between $10 and $100 each to help get the park up and running including one from media management company FiftyOne Digital.

Owner Ryan Judd said in his email to Simpson: "As well as offering a pledge of $100 we will offer at no cost whatsoever 100 per cent free marketing and social media services to the park if established. The value of these services we are prepared to offer is over $30,000 year which shows how dedicated we are to providing a safe and controlled place for this hobby to take place."

Simpson's idea was one of the 25 submissions that failed to receive funding from the district's $5 million fund.

Simpson said he applied for $170,000 to build a shelter where people could stand, but said the funding was not essential for the running of the park.

"All the council has to do is de-list the airfield, which will save them money, then people can fly model planes."

But Mayor Neil Sinclair said the council had never received a formal business plan detailing the economic impact a model aero park will have on the district and how it would work in with other users.

Following the submission hearing Simpson said he directed people to the council's Facebook page to show the council how widespread the support for the project was.

In about a week more than 50 people posted messages claiming they would travel from countries such as Canada, Italy and the United States.

If developed, Simpson said he would like to see the park cater to a range of models, including planes, cars and boats.

In an email to the South Waikato District Council, Model Flying New Zealand president Jonathan Shorer said a similar idea had already been mooted.

"The MFNZ council has debated the issue of a national facility several times and concluded that it was difficult to construct a sound business case. One factor that we considered was that a similar venture in UK had failed despite having a catchment of 20,000 modellers within a two-hour drive of the facility near Nottingham."

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- Waikato Times

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