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Mercury Bay Sports Park

It was brought to my attention in December that after seven years, the Mercury Bay Sports Park is still not operating as intended, is underused, and as far as a high percentage of Whitianga residents are concerned, is regarded as an incredibly expensive 'white elephant,' that may well be the model for a similar project in terms of the proposed new Medical Centre.

Neither appear to have universal suppotr in the community, and may well be imposing on future rates in an unacceptable manner. And incredibly, their appears little support if any amongst the medical community.

I asked certain questions of Council that are outined below, together with the answers provided. I nvite you to study these answers closely and arrive at your own conclusion as to whether the Sports Ground represents 'value for money.'

I would be grateful if you could seek answers to the following 6 questions for me.

I have noted over Christmas that the surface of the MB Sports Complex parking area has been re-sealed. This gives rise to a number of questions concerning this project: 

1.  What was the final cost related to the MBSC field drainage project?

 "Final costs are not confirmed as this project is still being implemented. Fields two and five will be sand slit within the next week, the total cost to renovate all 5 fields over three years is expected to be $436,422. This renovation work is necessary to ensure the fields are usable all year round. Last winter while other fields were closed because of flooding the sand slit fields were still operational."  

2.   What was the cost the re-sealing, and under what approved project was it undertaken?

"The cost of the re-sealing came under the Parks and Reserves reseal budget, this is an annual general maintenance budget. The first coat seal lasts between 4 – 5 years, and the second coat seal lasts a lot longer, around 6-7 years. The final car park re-seal costs, including the line marking came to $20,340." 

3.   Why was it necessary to undertake this task so soon after the original project was completed, and so little traffic has been observed using the car park?

"Resealing carparks before the degradation of the initial surfacing is good asset management. The first coat seal was completed in 2012, therefore the second coat was due now, as per the explanation in question 2." 

4.   What sports have now both signed up to use the complex, and are actually using it?

"The sports codes that have signed up to use the complex facilities are: 

   ·         Touch Rugby - junior and senior, mixed grades

  • ·         Netball summer and winter, junior, secondary school, senior, mixed grades (Fusion Netball Club   hosted a tournament at the complex last September which brought in 32 teams) 
    ·         Rugby junior and secondary school
    ·         Rugby League juniors and seniors
    ·         Mercury Bay Football Club juniors, secondary and seniors

All of the above codes have training sessions at the sport park, and host local and regional tournaments.

Cricket will also be joining the above codes when the cricket pitch is completed in February. The Mercury Bay Cricket Club, which was established in 2014, have been fundraising to secure nets for the facility." 

5.   Has Council undertaken a cost benefit study on the use of the complex by actual participants in individual sports, and if not, why not?

"A specific cost benefit analysis has not been carried out. A recreational strategy for the Mercury Bay area is being developed which will review the Sports Park Facility along with other areas of development for recreation in the area.

This strategy will address the social and community benefit for recreational facilities, which includes sporting facilities. The strategy will take into account needs for future development of the Mercury Bay Multi Sports Park facility to accommodate growing numbers of users and, young and old as well as tangible benefits for health, wellbeing and social development. Financial benefit analysis for sporting facilities is difficult to measure and when scrutinised is very subjective."

 You will no doubt be cognizant of the fact that there a considerable number of Mercury Bay ratepayers who consider the complex a costly ‘white elephant,’ and who consider the proposed Medical Centre in the same category.

In view of the fact that Council has committed at least $250,000 to the ‘start-up’ of this project, it is important that get a full understanding of what has happened with regard to the Sports Complex.

With that in mind, I would like an indication as to a) when, and b) under what conditions it is proposed that the $250,000 will be committed.

"The Medical Centre project is at the stage where a site has been identified for the development of a facility. To enable detailed research, investigation, planning, design and development to take place, including the development of a business case, an amount of $250,000 has been allocated.  None of the allocated funds have been used to date.

We are aware that in moving this project forward, it is important that the correct process is followed and there is due diligence in the research and development of the business case.  It is not the intention of Council to develop the medical centre, but to facilitate via an independent trust a thorough planning process, including a business plan that will deal with the feasibility of the proposal. 

This will be carried out by a Trust proposed to be established to ensure this work is carried out independently of Council.  The timing of the work required and the allocation of the funding from Council to facilitate it would be determined once the Trust is established and it has developed a work programme with details of the resources and timeframes."



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