Field up­grades won’t solve short­ages

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Up­grades of two ma­jor parks will give sports fans some­thing to cheer about but they won’t be the an­swer to Al­bert-Eden’s play­ing field short­age.

The Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board is con­sult­ing res­i­dents on the re­de­vel­op­ment of Nixon Park and Fowlds Park. So far the projects are at the con­cept plan stage but would in­clude in­stalling ar­ti­fi­cial turfs and up­grad­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The whole of Cen­tral Auck­land has a se­vere short­age of sport fields and the Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board ward is one of the re­gion’s most lack­ing.

Over the next decade the Auck­land Coun­cil is in­vest­ing $190 mil­lion in up­grad­ing parks and in­stalling ar­ti­fi­cial turfs to make fields more avail­able through­out the year.

The Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board has been al­lot­ted $12m but Fowlds Park and Nixon Park are the only two of its eight sports parks suit­able for up­grades.

‘‘We can’t ac­tu­ally spend the fund­ing,’’ board chair­man Peter Haynes says. ‘‘Our prob­lem is we don’t have many sports fields that we can up­grade and those we do have tend to be in small parks, very close to the neigh­bours.

‘‘If you spend $1m to fit an ar­ti­fi­cial turf you need to put in light­ing so they can be used in the evening.

‘‘Of course, peo­ple liv­ing close to the bound­ary don’t nec­es­sar­ily want lights on all evening with peo­ple shout­ing and car­ry­ing on.’’

The need to pro­vide space for gen­eral recre­ation rather than just sports adds another chal­lenge. Pro­jec­tions show that even with the up­grades there will con­tinue to be a large short­fall in the ward over the next decade.

The Mt Al­bert Li­ons Rugby League Club is based at Fowlds Park. The club has around 300 mem­bers and pres­i­dent Ja­son Sut­ton says the fields are closed 25 to 30 per cent of the time in the win­ter. ‘‘We are 100 per cent be­hind the plans,’’ he says.

A meet­ing about the Fowlds Park plan is be­ing held on Satur­day, from 10am to noon be­side the Mt Al­bert Li­ons Rugby League clu­b­rooms at 50 Western Springs Rd. A meet­ing about the Nixon Park plan is on Fe­bru­ary 8, from 10am to noon at the Lacrosse clu­b­rooms, 11 Cen­tral Rd, Kings­land.

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