Two sides to sports fields de­bate

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHITTAKER

NOT ev­ery­one is on the same team when it comes to up­grades of the city’s sports fields.

Plans to in­stall an ar­ti­fi­cial turf at Fowlds Park don’t sit well with neigh­bours. They fear some users will be shut out and ex­ist­ing prob­lems with noise, traf­fic and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour will get worse as more peo­ple are drawn to use the fa­cil­ity.

Res­i­dents say their con­cerns need to be dealt with be­fore they’ll get be­hind the plan.

They’ve dealt with sports play­ers stay­ing af­ter games to drink al­co­hol and leav­ing bot­tles be­hind, peo­ple com­ing to the park at all hours to drink al­co­hol and play mu­sic, fires in the play­ground, boy rac­ers in the car park and even a sui­cide.

‘‘Not ev­ery­one has the same is­sues, but ev­ery­one is con­cerned that the is­sues we have around noise and an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour will be am­pli­fied,’’ He­len Coyte says.

‘‘If you call 111 on a Fri­day or Satur­day night when it’s hap­pen­ing, po­lice have big­ger fish to fry than clear­ing out drunks in a park,’’ Steven Coyte says.

‘‘I think res­i­dents genu- in­ely sup­port the use and en­joy­ment of sports be­ing played in this park as it has for many years,’’ res­i­dent Sue Ber­man says.

‘‘The con­cern comes from a pro­posal to rad­i­cally shift the na­ture of the sport­ing fa­cil­ity and fenc­ing off of an area that is cur­rently en­joyed as open ac­cess by a va­ri­ety of recre­ational park users, dog walk­ers and fit­ness train­ing and clubs.’’

Fowlds Park is one of eight re­serves in the Al­bert-Eden area iden­ti­fied for up­grades over the next eight years in the Auck­land Coun­cil’s $85 mil­lion Sport Field Ca­pac­ity De­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

The area has one of the largest short­falls in sports field ca­pac­ity in Auck­land.

The lo­cal board has en­dorsed a con­cept plan for the park which in­cludes build­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial turf on the num­ber two field that will be fenced off.

A four-me­tre high re­tain­ing wall will need to be built on a lower field to sup­port the turf and there will be ad­di­tional flood light­ing.

Work will be­gin in Novem­ber, pro­vided re­source con­sent is granted.

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board chair­man Peter Haynes says the de­vel­op­ment is des­per­ately needed and will ben­e­fit the wider com­mu­nity.

It’s also got the sup­port of the Auck­land Soft­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and Mt Al­bert Rugby League Club which use the park.

Pon­sonby Sergeant Geoff Med­land says po­lice aren’t aware of prob­lems in the park but res­i­dents are en­cour­aged to keep re­port­ing mat­ters.

Al­bert-Eden is fac­ing some dif­fi­cult chal­lenges in terms of sports field de­vel­op­ment, Haynes says.

Many of the re­gion’s parks have had to be ruled out be­cause they are small and have houses built close to their bound­aries.

‘‘The board is acutely aware of the im­pacts on nearby res­i­dents, but also of the crit­i­cal need for play­ing fields for young peo­ple in our area.

‘‘The lo­cal sports clubs are cry­ing out for sports fields that our young peo­ple can play on as the ones they use now are very of­ten un­us­able.’’

He says the board was un­der the im­pres­sion that anti-so­cial be­hav­iour was no longer an is­sue at the park af­ter mea­sures were put in place three years ago.

A com­mu­nity li­ai­son group has been set up and the board is as­sess­ing a num­ber of op­tions to try and ap­pease neigh­bours.

Photo: EMMA WHITTAKER

Com­mu­nity ap­proach: Sue McMil­lan, left, Brian Carter, He­len Coyte, Steve Coyte and John McMil­lan say more work needs to be done on plans to de­velop the Fowlds Park to re­duce the im­pact on neigh­bours.

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