Mercury Bay Sports Park
Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 10:54AM
Bill Barclay

The latest presser on the Sports Park, and its Trust projects the usual ineffable sweetness and light to which we have all become so used. That is why councils these days put so much of resource into their 'communications' units - something that barely existed prior to this present Council.

Without wishing to again project a negative picture of what is going on over there at Whitianga, it is still necessary to closely analyse just what is that we are being told, and of even greater interest - what we are not being told. The Whitianga Sports ground is such an embarrassment to this Council, that I doubt if we will ever be told the truth and nothing but the truth - it is so easy to hide behind grand sweeping statements, and rhetoric that amounts to deception.

The first question that should be asked is just why so many of the previous members decided to "step down" from the Trust, and in particular, chair Doug Bourne who has been the driving force from the outset. Meanwhile the new chair - Bill McLean" is "Looking forward to being actively involved in the promotion and development of the park." As ever, persuading various sports to move to what many consider a white elephant in every sense is proving as difficult as ever.

Talk about making a silk purse from a pig's ear! All this requires a full-time coordinator "to liaise directly with the codes and co-ordinate bookings and events at the Park." What this amounts to a managing a snow job to persuade, inveigle and offer whatever incentives can be drummed up from the Council to overcome the understandable reluctance to move from what are often quite satisfactory existing venues. This also involves seeking sponsorship to cover "various aspects of the Park that will not be funded by Council." Well, that is a relief.

But interestingly enough, and buried deep in the Release is the revelation that Council has found another $100,000 of what is described as "unspent capital expenditure already allocated to the Sport's Park." Well that is certainly an oxymoron - and if there remains any unspent "capital" of this magnitude then is should have been returned to the Council coffers and only reallocated after a thorough needs analysis against other projects of equal or higher importance. It is outrageous that staff are able to make such decisions without further reference, but perfectly in keeping with the manner in which this current regime operates.

By the way, the $100,000 has been allocated to cover the cost of "slitting" in a vain attempt to once again deal with the inevitable drainage problem that resulted from accepting the Park from Hopper's company with a totally inappropriate drainage and turfing system in place. The ground is a disaster, and another $100,000 is unlikely to fix the problem which is fundamental - the canal waste being of too fine a consistency to ever provide satisfactory drainage - a fact that has been higlighted on several occasions in these posts. No amount of dissembling can avoid this blatant truth, and much more hand-wringing and stress related leave (and spin!) can be expected before it is solved.

This extract from the presser is a classic of misinformation - have you ever heard of sports grounds like Eden Park and elsewhere requiring a year to "settle in"? Turfs are regularly changed between cricket to football seasons to meet the needs of the various codes. In any case the Whitianga Park was first turfed three years ago, and still most of it cannot be played on. 

"All sports playing fields need an on-going turf maintenance programme. A report TCDC has had prepared by an independent turf advisor with the NZ Turf Institute tells us that it's common for all newly established turf to take up to a year to settle in and drain effectively."

What balderdash - do they think we are idiots? - a simple acknowledgement of the truth is all that is required. Once again, our Council benefits from the total absence of investigative journalism, and media willing to simply re-publish its self-serving spin.   


Update on Monday, October 13, 2014 at 3:33PM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Here is the entry in the Sports Turf Institute website about the problems they had to deal with on the Whitianga Sprorts Park - and that is just the beginning of it! Notice that there is no claim of having achieved a successful outcome.




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