Sunday, 28 February 2021

WHITIANGA WEATHER

“Masterplan” fails to sway Tairua skatepark decision

An elaborate vision that would completely transform Tairua’s Pepe Reserve, including reclaiming a section of land from the estuary, has failed to sway a decision around the construction of a skatepark at Cory Park Domain, the town’s only active recreation reserve.

Jim Jackson, who owns a property on Manaia Road, developed his “Masterplan for the Redevelopment of the Pepe Reserve” on behalf of Preserve Cory Park Domain (PCPD), which is made up of residents who are opposed to the skatepark development adjacent to the town’s rugby field and tennis courts.

Over the past fortnight, the plan was presented to both the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board and Thames-Coromandel District Council as an alternative means of delivering the long-awaited skate park for the town. With it came an undertaking that the opposing residents would be willing to pay for a new skatepark facility themselves if it was relocated to the Pepe Reserve.

While TCDC previously ruled out the Pepe Reserve as a skatepark location, mainly due to consent requirements, lawyer Padraig McNamara, who also addressed the most recent council meeting on 10 February, suggested this was part of a “flawed decision-making process.” Councillors were also advised the cost of resolving any potential consent issues at the Pepe Reserve was likely to be less than what they will spend if the current Cory Park plan ends up in the courts.

Addressing the council meeting, Mr Jackson claimed Tairua was “tearing itself apart” over the issue of the skatepark location and his alterative proposal was an opportunity for TCDC to bring everyone along with them, without leaving some out in the cold.

The “masterplan” was created independently of council and without any wider community input. It is based around the as yet unconfirmed delivery of a two-way bridge for the town with a walking and cycling path underneath, and includes an area of reclaimed land, additional parking, a swimming pontoon, a pump track and a skatepark. No estimates were given in terms of cost.

The revelation of this plan came as the Community Board was expected to sign off on the final design for the skate park at Cory Park Domain. However, a noise assessment at the site has recommended the inclusion of mitigation measures in order to ensure compliance with the Resource Management Act and the District Plan. Having heard from both Mr Jackson, representatives of the Tairua Sport & Recreation Trust and Vivienne Cory-Wright who outlined her support for the skatepark on behalf of her family who gifted Cory Park to the town, the board resolved to proceed with construction of the skatepark at Cory Park Domain, subject to the inclusion of the recommended noise mitigation and confirmation that the Trust has reached its fundraising target of $150,000.

So far $115,000 has been raised through community and corporate donations and the outcome of several grant applications will be known within the next two weeks. TCDC will contribute the remaining $300,000 cost of the project. The Trust is confident that construction could begin as early as next month. Chairman of Tairua-Pauanui Community Board, Warwick Brooks, is urging all sectors of the community to now move forward. “There has been a lot of views on where a skate park should be situated, either at Cory Park Domain or the Pepe Reserve, which has divided the community,” he said. “Any decision wasn't going to make everyone happy. But we’ve had to make a decision and so now is the time for this community to heal, be kind to each other and come together to get on with the project.”

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