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Jack McLean Gym 

The Jack McLean Gym, formerly known as the Zoom Zone Dry Court was officially opened this morning amongst a great deal of back-slapping, and general bonhomie by mainly black suited gentlemen, all of whom were associated with the build, one way or another.

Right at the outset I want to say that it is a most impressive final outcome, but boy, it took some angst to get there, and a great deal of the self-congratulation may have better replaced with some reflection on the failures that have bugged the build from day one. And there is no doubt that incompetence dogged the entire process. It is good to acknowledge this, otherwise there is a danger of repeating the same mistakes on other projects.

I am not going to detail the failures that I have described over several years - simply enter 'Zoom Zone,' or 'Dry Court' into the Search engine to get access to all the relevant posts.

Regardless, I am going to express my extreme disappointment at the failure of one single speaker this morning to mention the TUGPRA fund which was 'gutted' as the result of the pressure applied by Mary Hamilton and others to access over $2m from this fund in order to bolster the amount provided by Council and Community Board.

It should have been distinguished from other Council funding because this Fund is the result of careful nurturing,  it belongs entirely to the rate-payers of Thames, having its genesis in lease income from a 19th Century Government land grant to the Thames Borough Council. And now rate-payers are being 'dudded' for another $600,000 to cover the shortfall resulting from the roof repairs - borrowing against the Thames Depreciation Reserve, and thus transferring more debt to the next generation to re-pay - disgraceful!

Every single rate-payer in this town, including a great number who will never benefit from this magnificent gym - references  this morning to "exercise classes" were laughable since such are unlikely to be available during the day, had better prepare for some substantial increases in rates over the next few years now that the depreciation fund spigot has been turned off!

All of us have had to accept that this is a 'done deal,' but let us not forget that for twenty years or more, the understanding was that the TUGPRA fund be allowed to build up in order to partially fund the re-location, and re-build of the Thames swimming pool - a facility that would benefit nearly every citizen, a much wider group than is likely to acquire benefit from a gym, but that argument was lost, and now we have a gym, albeit magnificent, but a vastly depleted TUGPRA fund.

The next battle will be to resist the projected inroads of the Thames Sports and Recreation Trust which is believed to have its eyes on the remainder of TUGPRA to fund the proposed Rhodes Park rugby facility to replace the present decrepit grandstand. Lip service remains being paid (including this morning!) towards the pool, but its priority remains in limbo. THere was certainly no mention of the pool in either the speeches, or the presser. 

But the move towards a Regional pool facility appears well under way, based on a discussion I had this morning with Waikato Sports Director - Mathew Cooper - that it almost certainly will be based in Paeroa due to the high water-table over most of Thames (and Paeroa for that matter!) - certainly those areas likely to to be otherwise suitable for an aquatic facility.

Thames residents opposing such a move are likely to be stymied by the water-table argument, but remains to carry out a proper survey of all possible relocation sites, both here and Paeroa. 


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