Grant se­cures fu­ture of park

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Up­dat­ing Cougar Park is a dream about to come true for Toko­roa Moun­tain Bike Club which re­ceived a whop­ping $350,000 for the project from the district’s $5 mil­lion fund.

Pres­i­dent Brett McMullen said it is some­thing that would never have been done other­wise.

‘‘An up­grade to the ex­tent we are now able to wasn’t ever on the hori­zons. We’re only a small club with limited re­sources. We were never go­ing to get this park to a stan­dard where we will be able to now.’’

Cougar Park, as with many moun­tain bike parks, op­er­ates in a plan­ta­tion for­est, McMullen said.

‘‘Tracks are dis­turbed to a cer­tain point and then you go and reestab­lish them. The plus side is that it al­lows us to bring the tracks up to a bet­ter level than they were be­fore.’’

The grant couldn’t come at a bet­ter time ei­ther.

About six months ago the club was made aware of Han­cock’s plan to har­vest an area of the plan­ta­tion.

‘‘Last week we were given a har­vest­ing plan to show which ar­eas of the park they will tackle first. Ini­tially were are go­ing to spend a small per­cent­age of the money on up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing tracks in ar­eas that will be har­vested in the next few years.

‘‘We don’t want vis­i­tors to come and be dis­ap­pointed with the park. The moun­tain bike com­mu­nity talks, and we don’t want them to say ‘don’t go there they’ve got crappy tracks’.’’

He said they will ro­tate the track for­ma­tions while this hap­pens.

He said the ul­ti­mate goal is to utilise lo­cal labour in the for­ma­tion of the tracks.

Park users should start to see changes in the next few years, McMullen said.

‘‘Af­ter five years we in­tend to have spent the money.’’

The club has com­mit­ted to hold­ing three ma­jor events at the park an­nu­ally as a con­di­tion of se­cur­ing the fund­ing.

McMullen said the first big one will be the Day Night Thriller com­ing in Septem­ber.

Tra­di­tion­ally held in Taupo, he said the na­tional event is set to at­tract more than 1000 en­tries.

‘‘We’ve had to do a lot of work on the ex­ist­ing tracks to make it mem­o­rable.’’

And an up­grade is only set to bring big­ger and bet­ter things to town, he said.

‘‘We’re just ex­cited that we’ve se­cured the fu­ture of the park and we look for­ward to adding to the mix of the South Waikato.’’

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