Minogue Park plans anger dog lovers, residents

16:00, Oct 23 2009

Dog lovers and residents have accused Hamilton City Council of "paving paradise to put up a parking lot" during public submissions over changes to Forest Lake's Minogue Park.

The council plans to create four sports fields and two cricket ovals which would reduce the park's open spaces and dog exercise areas. Two car parks and new roads to cater for the extra sporting traffic are also part of the draft Minogue Park management plan which concerned some of the 14 submitters, most of whom were against the development, at Wednesday's community and environment committee.

But parks and gardens manager Bill Featherstone said the 44-hectare park, which is already home to the Hamilton City Netball Centre, Hamilton BMX Club, Hamilton Model Engineers Club, Waterworld Te Rapa and Lake Rotokaeo, was bought in the 1980s for both passive and active recreation.

The land designated for the new playing fields had been especially levelled for them but no funding had been allocated for the development in the 10-year long-term council community plan.

The project had been put off because of cost. But Tracy Wilde of the Hamilton Dog Obedience Club and SPCA said a reduced off-lead area for dogs would cause problems for the community.

Ms Wilde told the committee that under-exercised and under-socialised dogs became aggressive toward other dogs and humans, and dog parks all over the city were either disappearing or being severely restricted by the council. Dog owners from all over Hamilton used the park because it was the biggest dog exercise area left in Hamilton.

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Another dog lover, Stephanie Holmes, said there were enough sports fields and it wouldn't cost the council anything to leave the park as it was.

Other submitters worried about parking, traffic congestion, noise and "hoons" using proposed new roads which would join Minogue Dr and Tui Ave.

Helen Glyde of the Vision Forest Lake Residents Association said residents of the retirement village – which borders the northern end of the park – were worried about the implications, especially as Minogue Dr was already very narrow.

Lake Rotokaeo neighbour Pauline Hickey said she would prefer to see development of the lake and was worried about drainage and wildlife there.

"I would hate to see council swap paradise for a parking lot," she said.

Another resident, Selwyn Hooker, asked if 30 rugby players "assume greater importance than hundreds of dog owners, residents and others".

"Not all families are involved in rugby but all families love wide open spaces where they can take their children and play."

But Mr Featherstone said the fields were not exclusively for rugby.

The area would not now be fenced so it was "only when a game was on that you can't go out there and fly a kite or kick a ball around".

He said the development took priority over interim use by dogs and if the sports fields were developed today they would be in demand.

The committee adopted the management plan but agreed to extend the dog exercise area.

Waikato Times