It is completely wrong to suggest the local board wants to ‘‘make [Chamberlain Park] into sportsfields’’ or that it is trying to make its mark on the landscape to satisfy its vanity. Nor has anyone suggested removing golf from the park, as Mr Crerar implies.
The board is currently asking local people what they want on the park. The end of the operator’s lease last year – when the operator could not continue with the lease – allowed us to look at widening the uses of the park and opening it up to a wider range of people than only golfers.
The reasons for looking at the park are about responding to issues that people have raised with us. Our area has Auckland’s lowest per capita levels of open space and the biggest shortfall in sportsfield capacity. Neighbouring areas suffer similarly. Albert-Eden has almost one third of the Auckland region’s shortfall. That’s as much as the entire north and south of Auckland put together.
This problem is only going to get worse because of anticipated population growth.
Our parks are too small, and the sportsfields too close to residents, to allow more than a handful of sportsfields to be upgraded for greater use. Placing sportsfields on the park would mean fewer local kids missing out on sport.
Mr Crerar also seems to have overlooked that the possible uses suggested for feedback include learn-toplay golf facilities and a driving range as well as a short course. (There’s another public course in Takapuna too.) This is partly why NZ Golf, which has a strategic view of the future of golf, supported these proposals.
We have yet to establish how much of the park is ‘natural’, and how much constructed 75 years ago. There may be relatively little heavy machinery required. But, again, the possibilities suggested include restoring some of the park to a natural state, with plantings of natives, providing an area where people could walk, cycle and exercise their dogs. Thus the proposals are supported by local environmental groups.
Finally, the board did not congratulate itself for permitting the restoration of Nesfield House. Apart from anything else, the board doesn’t get to approve resource consents.