Mayor Yule says he is “pretty p****d off” that the sports park is being held up by a group of “five or six” people. Exactly 14,880 people voted to put the track out on Percival Road, he says.
The sports park trust chairman, Rex Graham, adds: “Who do they think they are? It’s arrogant and elitist.”
Let’s try to set the record straight. Here’s what the Hastings Council website says.
Out of 50,144 eligible voters, 14,854 voted to put an athletics track, a 1,000 seat grandstand, and associated parking at Percival Road. At the time, this was called the Percival Road Sports and Recreation Park.
In other words, just under 30% of eligible Hastings voters (and no one elsewhere in the region, of course) voted for a rather limited facility. In their mind’s eye, they saw simply a transplanted Nelson Park. And many of them chose that option as the lesser of two evils — they didn’t want “big box” retail development spoiling the fertile countryside instead.
Then miraculously, the limited track facility metamorphosed into Hastings’ own Incredible Hulk — a $60 million+ “regional” sports complex complete with velodrome … all on prime farmland.
The Incredible Hulk wouldn’t garner 14,854 votes today … and the Mayor knows it. The 9,142 ratepayers (not 5 or 6 elitists) who opposed the sale of Nelson Park back in 2006 would double today — I’ll wager — in opposition to the regional sports park.
The Hawke’s Bay Land Protection Society, in exercising its rights to challenge the sports park, is speaking and acting for thousands of ratepayers who believe this venture represents bad fiscal management, bad land use policy, bad social strategy, bad sports policy and — yes — bad recession relief.
But meanwhile Mayor Yule is frantically trying to cobble together the financing that Sam Kelt has failed to muster. He’s looking to Wellington to bail him out, and it doesn’t help to have the “untidiness” of an Environment Court, and now High Court, appeal against the project.
Nor does it help his case that neither the Napier nor Regional Councils have committed definitive sports park funding in their pending long term plans (LTCCPs). Instead, both are said to be giving themselves plenty of wiggle room.
Even the Hawke’s Bay Today isn’t kissing up to the sports park … it’s reporting the opposition.
The whole thing could turn to custard.
So the Mayor’s “pretty p****d off.”
Well, so are plenty of ratepayers who see the sports park as the wrong idea at the wrong place at the wrong time, advanced in complete disregard of due process.
As Chris Ryan wrote in HB Today: “The apoplectic attack by Mr Yule and others on Mr Baldock and other growers representing many of their fellows is very sad and unjustified.
They are after all the people who have helped make our district and country”s wealth by their use of the land. Surely they have every right to protest about the cavalier squandering of our prime productive soils which are the basis of that wealth.”