By now the news has spread that Hastings has not made the short list as a potential site for an indoor North Island velodrome. The finalists are Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North.

While velodrome enthusiasts surrounded the Hastings proposal with heaps of promotional fluff, it’s not surprising that a proposal that didn’t meet some of the most basic requirements set forth for the facility — such as ‘Olympic’ seating capacity and access to an international airport — would not make the cut. Simply, the velodrome SPARC wants is beyond the reasonable financial means of our ratepayers.

In Hawke’s Bay, we should treat this as an opportunity … an opportunity to re-group and re-think our regional sport priorities.

As we have previously written (here and here), there appears to be a significant — and growing — gap between the appetite of sport enthusiasts for facilities and operating subsidies and the region’s ability to feed those competing mouths.

The clamour over the sports park and its sucking in of resources has taken the community’s eye off the ball … fashioning an affordable long-term sports strategy for the region — one that serves the recreation and exercise needs of all segments of our population — with genuine buy-in from competing sport codes, average ratepayers with differing sport affinities (as well as non-sport priorities), and competing local jurisdictions.

Constantly BayBuzz hears from folks around the region who want better community swimming facilities, a competitive rowing venue, more playing fields or upgraded facilities for this or that sport, more financial support to meet the operating costs of this or that code, more playgrounds close to where kids live. Now is the time to inventory all of those needs and aspirations, sort and price them out, and decide what the region wants most and can actually afford.

Meantime, full speed ahead with implementing the grassroots cycling (and walking) programs that have already won such considerable outside funding support.

By one measure, taking the velodrome off the table frees up nearly $15 million in funding from the Hastings, Regional and Napier Councils that was earmarked for that facility … plus it takes Unison off the hook for a $1 million sponsorship … plus it means that other trusts and corporates will not be chased for ‘external’ velodrome funding.

That’s a considerable pot of resources that can be redeployed to service a genuine regional sport strategy … or simply left in ratepayer wallets.

That’s the choice we now have … presenting a real opportunity for the community (and not just sport codes) to engage.

Tom Belford

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3 Comments

  1. Thank goodness for that!! the Bike track going somewhere else, that's one financial burden lifted off the home owners, so why replace it with another??

    May I run this past you to consider??

    Who owns most, well, a hell of a lot of the homes in HB? May I suggest the baby boomers, who are all coming up for and into retirement. And may I suggest that those very same people, who assumed that the aged pension would be sufficient to live on in retirement, and do not have sufficient retirement savings in this modern era of hell raising inflation.

    How do those home owners feel, when they see their retirements being screwed, by free wheeling councils {all of them} proposing to spend, spend, spend? I for one, don't want to pick up the local paper, to read that another lump of my retirement savings, are going to be taken from me for the Sports park, Splash Planet, Bike tracks, Bus ride subsidies,The Arena and more and more.

    Tell me please, why is it, that it is only the home owner that has to shell out for these things?? It seems to be one hell of an ask to own your own home. There must be a fairer way to fund these things??

    Perhaps you can see why most house sales are forced mortgagee sales; it's no little wonder.

    When I was a young fellow, we fundraised and provided our own amenities and venues. Now it seems to be the home owners responsibility.

    I thought Councils {all of them} were responsible for providing and maintaining essential services?? Am I wrong here?? For example, what right does the HBRC have in subsidising goddam bus fares for goodness sake?? Part of my pension taken from me to give to a much better paid person than myself. Now Mr Mayor is going to help himself to some of my pension, to put into the Sports park?? And I can't afford to buy certain things, that are out of the reach of my income.

    Perhaps some of you out there have some good idea's???

    Cheers.

    Wills.

  2. Hi Tom

    What I see on the velodrome issue is 10 years hard work by some very dedicated people, to all intents and purposes, down the drain.

    The velodrome idea was started in HB, and only when the carrot of SPARC funding was dangled did the other players come out of the woodwork.

    I think there will be a lot of upset and angry people in HB over the next few days, but I hope that we can regroup and go back to the original concept and make this facility a reality.

    I understand your concept of a regional sports strategy, but I do not see it as being a viable reality. There are too many conflicts between various sporting codes, within those sporting codes, and the continuing Napier-Hastings schism which is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome.

    Cheers

    Kevin

  3. Instead of a velodrome……maybe the HDC would consider a public toilet in the Stortford Lodge shopping area. We could call it Yule House and put some Christmas lights atop. That would be a sporting gesture appreciated by young and old and not really very far away from the HDC's core activities. Maybe ?

    Cheers

    Brian.

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