Council decides to build $35.7m pool, library and service centre at Denton Park
Building a pool, library and service centre at Denton Park breaches the wishes of the man who gifted the land to Christchurch, his family says.
Despite this, the Christchurch City Council on Thursday voted in favour of building the new $35.7 million facility at the Hornby park.
The decision was a contentious one after many in the community called for the council to leave Denton alone and build the facility at either Kyle Park or Warren Park.
During a council debate on the issue, numerous interjections were made from the public gallery by people holding signs asking the council to "save Denton Park please."
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An online petition calling for the "invasion" of the park to stop, which attracted almost 1500 signatures, was presented to the council by Hornby resident Mark Peters.
"Don't destroy Denton Park by ruining its capacity and usefulness. Please allow future generations to enjoy Denton Park as numbers of generations have before them," Peters told councillors.
The Denton family also joined the voices of opposition.
Nine descendants of Stanley Denton signed a letter voicing their disapproval of the proposal as they say their relative gifted the land to the city in 1954 to be preserved as an outdoor sports area.
"Please respect our family name, don't take away or cut into our heritage," the letter says.
The development meant Hornby Rugby Football and Hornby Cricket clubs would lose a rugby field and cricket ground.
Nearly 300 submissions were received by the council and 43 per cent supported Kyle Park, 38 per cent supported Denton Park and 14 per cent wanted the facility built at Warren Park.
But the facility would cost $41m to build at Kyle Park or would have to be reduced in size by 22 per cent to stay within the $35.7m budget.
Before a facility could be built at Kyle Park the land, which used to be an uncontrolled landfill, would need to be remediated at an estimated cost of $9m to $10m.
Cr Vicki Buck said she was not willing to support a proposal that reduced the size of the facility, especially in an area that desperately needed it.
"The really big difficulty I have as a ratepayer and a councillor is taking $9m of other people's money and burying it in the ground.
She said a lot of people in the community favoured Denton Park.
"I know this is not what people in the room want, but a lot of other people in the southwest of Christchurch want a facility that allows their kids to learn to swim … allows the community to meet and have a good time."
Cr Sara Templeton said there was no clear consensus from the community and consultation was just one factor councillors took into account when making decisions.
"People elect us to represent the wider interest of the city. If we make all of our decisions on a survey online then the most organised and well-resourced group in the community would win every time."
Cr Andrew Turner said the southwest needed a good quality facility that was going to be fit for today and for the future.
"I find it impossible to accept a facility that has a reduced scope."
After the meeting Peters, who presented the petition, said he was extremely disappointed at the council's decision not to listen to "the voice of the people".
Before the building could be built at Denton Park, the park's reserve classification and the Denton Park Management Plan would need to change and this would require public consultation.
Peters said he would continue to fight the decision through that process.