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Thames "Sports Hub"

In a PR on 9 November, our Council acknoeledged for the first time that it had purchased:

"     a block of land in Totara adjoining Council-owned land south of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield creates an area big enough for a potential future sports and recreation hub."

Later down the article, it was revealed that the area purchased was about 7.5h, at a cost of $1.04m.

As indicated in an earlier post on the 18 September meeting, this decision was taken behind closed doors "because of commercial sensitivity," with no indication given at the time as to the purpose or details of the purchase.

Apart from the the considerations eloquently explained by Denis Tegg in his recent post related to the suitability of the land in question for the primary purpose of relocating the Centennial swimming pool, the process surrounding this purchase is totally unsatisfactory, and cannot be justified by the usual "commercial sensitivity" excuse when exposed to controversial proposed use.

It stinks - if not reeking of corrupt practice, certainly of reckless exposure of ratepayer funds to a use that has far wider implications than can be justified by post-purchase "discussions" with potential users. 

As readers will know, I have been highly complimentary of recent Council performance and practice, particularly surrounding the work of CEO Rob Williams, and Mayor Sandra Goudie. But no one is above criticism, and on this occasion, I consider that all concerned have 'stepped over the mark' into arrogant and outrageous mis-use of our rates - something that is inevitable when a Council becomes over-confident, and ignores its 'public service' status. 

Denis Tegg is absolutely correct in his analysis of what is likely to happen if this land is used for the primary purpose for which it was purchased. The life of what is destined to be a major, if not huge capital investment is likely to be of very short relative duration for no good reason other than blind refusal to accept the proven facts surrounding sea-level rise, and its likely effect on the entire coastline.

The inadequacy of existing sea-wall bunds, is already widely accepted, and yet our Council is prepared to go for a resource consent to build a pool adjacent to the flood plain that has already adversely affected the rugby and netball facilities. This is utter lunacy - and if this is not what is intended, then why pay over a million dollars of our money for the land in the first place. It begs the question - does someone have a vested interest in this outcome?

After all, it is beyond belief that a normal responsible, and professionally advised Council would undertake this purchase for this purpose in the circumstances. I for one will be very interested in the contents of the reports that the PR indicates will go to Council early next year along with inclusion the 2021-31 LTP, or as a separate "public consultation." 

This from the PR appear almost as an afterthought, and 'covering of the proverbial':

"We’ve also been continuing consultations with Waikato Regional Council (WRC) about the Totara site and requirements there for flood protection. A geotechnical report conducted earlier this year found no major flaws to the airfield south site, but noted that the existing stopbanks would need to be raised in order to cope with projected sea level rises over the long term.

The detailed design of the facility would take into consideration the stormwater and floodwater management needed to cope with sea level projections over the 50-60 year lifespan of any sports facility that is built there."

It is to be hoped that common sense will have prevailed by then, and that another use for this land, and another site for the proposed "hub" will have been found by that time.



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