The Hastings Council has voted to launch the public consultation process on the proposed “regional” sports park.

Submissions will be accepted from April 19 through May 26. Council hearings on submissions will be held June 12-13. An “open day” is planned for the Percival Road location on May 10. A public meeting on the proposal will be held at 5:30pm on May 12 at the Opera House. All households in Hastings District will receive briefing materials on the proposal.

Sounds like the Council is seriously interested in public consultation, right?

Wrong!

The sports park is a done deal unless Sam Kelt fails to deliver $35 million of the required $56 million to the table (you and I are paying the rest).

It doesn’t matter if the facility meets a real need or not. Today the Council brushed aside an inconvenient consultant report that asserts existing recreational facilities are being under-utilized, and raises questions about declining usage that the proposed park fails to address. Clearly, virtually no Councillors, nor the CEO, were familiar with its contents or implications. Nor did they care to be. What me worry?!

As Councillor Bradshaw, who along with Councillor Burnside is worried, asked pointedly: “Why did we bother to commission this report?”

It doesn’t matter that the proposed park will chew up some of the best land in Hawke’s Bay … no doubt with more surrounding development to come. Not even mentioned today. It’s only 30 hectares. 30 here, 25 there … What me worry?!

It doesn’t matter that the operating financials — assuming Kelt raises the capital costs (itself fraught with difficulties) — are built on one after another specious assumptions. Once it’s built and the house of cards collapses, the ratepayers will be stuck with the payments. As far as Councillors are concerned … What me worry?!

It doesn’t matter than one after another Napier and Regional Councillor confesses to cold feet on the proposal … and to being nicked $3 million for it (each Council), before their share of operating losses. What me worry?!

Some Councillors held out the hope that the new facility would result in increased participation in sport by the region’s youth. Surely a noble objective. I can just see them now … peddling to the velodrome by the thousands. If more proactive, professional program planning will lead to greater participation, as is assumed, fine … spend some money to hire more qualified staff to plan and execute those programs … using existing under-utilized facilities. Spend on people; not millions on bricks and mortar.

Some Councillors harrumphed that the complex (that is, phases 2 and 3 of the project) would absolutely NOT be built if the capital funds were not raised. Fat chance. When would HDC declare that Sam Kelt had failed to raise the capital? Being paid $25,000 a month to peddle the project, he can probably fundraise forever. HDC is already upon the second trimester on the project … this pregnancy will not be aborted.

And as noted above, no concern expressed about operating losses.

So if you have doubts about the sports park, too bad.

On the other hand, if a Council dangling $56 million of cotton candy before you leaves you drooling, this is the “consultation” for you. You’re gonna eat it up! But don’t blame BayBuzz when you’re eventually required to stick your gooey fingers in your wallet.

See you at the hearings. Meantime, go here to easily send a message of concern to Mayor Yule.

Tom

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1 Comment

  1. I'd love to know what would be required for the park *not* to go ahead now. Opposing submissions seem to be like water off the proverbial waterfowl's back, as we've seen repeatedly in the past (and not just with HDC!).

    Most of all I'd love the council or someone to explain who ordered the damned thing in the first place.

    Aside from vague references to some recreation strategy a few years ago, I've seen almost no justification of the whole sports park idea from the council at all. Where's the mandate?

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