Petone sports hub faces unclear future
The future of the proposed $7.4 million Petone Sportsville is unclear with rugby pulling out.
In May, the Hutt City Council agreed to a $300,000 study looking at the feasibility of the sporting hub, which had been under discussion since 2011.
The latest proposal is for a facility on North Park, including rugby, cricket, gymnastics, tennis and bowls. However the Petone Rugby Football Club’s decision to withdraw has thrown the whole project into doubt.
Council general manager Matt Reid said he was disappointed by rugby’s decision but heartened by a recent meeting with Petone rugby chairman Wayne Smith.
The council and the club laid all ‘‘their cards on the table’’ and after a frank discussion, agreed to keep talking.
Sportsville chairman and former All Black Allan Hewson, said he was ‘‘disappointed’’ the rugby club had withdrawn but pleased to hear it was still talking to council.
He had spent the last few months talking to the clubs but once rugby withdrew, he left it to the council to try and find a way forward.
Without rugby, a sporting hub would not be viable, he said.
The rugby club declined to comment but its website noted it had withdrawn, without giving any details.
The club said it ‘‘is not standing still’’ and is looking at its future strategic direction.
Reid said issues the rugby club were concerned about related to governance, finance and how to protect the club’s historical legacy. The work under way would provide them with the information they required.
He said the recent meeting left him hopeful a solution could still be found.
Officers would report to councillors on the result of the feasibility study. Without rugby, the options would be a much smaller hub or abandoning the project altogether.
He remained firmly committed to the Sportsville model and believed it was in the best interests of the Petone sporting community.
One of the codes involved was gymsports, which is run out of an industrial building in Seaview. Reid said it was a rapidly growing sport but without a purpose-built facility, it would struggle in Lower Hutt, which has a shortage of large industrial buildings.
Petone Rugby Football Club has withdrawn from the proposed Petone Sportsville.