Late Friday the Hastings District Council and Hawke’s Bay A&P Society floated a proposal for HDC to purchase 41 hectares of the Tomoana Showgrounds site.
Both parties note that no action will be taken until HDC consults with ratepayers via its upcoming Annual Plan process in April and the A&P Society confers with its membership.
No price tag has yet been revealed (awaiting A&P Society members to be fully briefed), but it will be big $$, as implied by the joint media release: “…loan funding raised by Council … would ensure the cost is spread over the generations who will use it.”
The final decision will be made by 30 June, the point at which HDC must adopt its Annual Plan.
Here is the full release:
Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and Hastings District Council have today announced a conditional agreement for the Council to purchase 41ha of the Tomoana Showgrounds site.
Subject to Hastings community and A&P Society membership support for the transaction, Hastings District Council is proposing purchasing the Showgrounds using loan funding raised by Council, which would ensure the cost is spread over the generations who will use it. Council will be consulting residents through the Annual Plan process, which will start in April.
On what is the largest publicly accessible green space in the Hastings urban area, the Show-grounds hosts the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, the weekly Farmers’ Market, numerous rural field days, the Hawke’s Bay Fiesta of Lights, live concerts, and, of course, Horse of the Year, the largest equestrian show in the Southern Hemisphere with an economic value of $5 million to the region.
Under Council ownership, all these iconic events and attractions would continue and be enhanced, and the park would be protected under the Reserves Act.
Hawke’s Bay A&P Society president Simon Collin said: “In keeping with our 160-year-old role as champions of our region’s crucial agricultural and pastoral sectors, we have negotiated rights that would ensure we can continue to hold all the iconic events that are a celebration of our region’s magnificent food and fibre industries.
“Nevertheless, it is important that our members have the chance to consider the details of the proposed offer and the opportunity to have their say on any decision to sell the Tomoana Showgrounds,” he said.
Pending the agreement of members, details of the agreement will be made public at the end of March.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the purchase presents an exciting opportunity that would protect the iconic Showgrounds and green space and must be seriously considered.
“But we will not be going ahead without first checking with our community that it is an asset that we want to retain, both for today and for future generations.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this is an asset we must consider protecting, however we want to hear what our community thinks. We will be calling widely for submissions, through the Annual Plan process, which starts in April,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.
A decision on the potential sale is expected to be made by June 30.