Railway plan angers motorsport group

By Michele McPherson

Tauranga motorsport enthusiasts are up in arms about a plan to build a bush railway and sawmill museum at the TECT All-Terrain Park, saying it bordered on a breach of good faith bargaining.
Te Matai Motorsport, a group of five motorsport clubs representing 1500 people, has been negotiating to lease a 380-hectare block for nearly two years.
Chairman David Loughlin said the proposal to reduce the group's area to accommodate the bush railway was unprofessional and bordered on a breach of good faith bargaining.
He blamed the lack of progress with the lease and management plan on the amount of time spent by park management on distractions, such as the bush railway proposal by the Bush Railway and Old Sawmill Trust. "We urge the subcommittee to decline the proposal for a bush railway in the Te Matai block and to instruct TECT Park management to focus their work effort on completing the core business of the park," Mr Loughlin said.
Te Matai Motorsport wanted to complete its lease agreement as soon as possible to enable development to continue.
TECT All-Terrain Park manager Ric Balfour said Tauranga City Council had received proposals from both organisations.
"They're preliminary proposals that haven't been decided upon. Nothing has been confirmed yet," Mr Balfour said.
The railway and sawmill proposal was extremely detailed and the trust had a pretty clear indication of where it wanted to go but that didn't mean its plans were going to eventuate as desired.
"We've got very specific consent conditions and we ask the proposals be as specific as possible and once we have this information we can look into what they want," Mr Balfour said.


"Sometimes there has to be compromises and adjustments, but we try and work out a way that works for everyone."
Last Thursday's subcommittee meeting asked for more information on the proposal from the Rotorua-based Bush Railway and Old Sawmill Trust.
A report from Western Bay of Plenty District Council staff said the proposal was considered to be suited to the park, which had been established for the purpose of providing a long-term home for recreational clubs. Staff asked the subcommittee to approve the plan in principle while further consultation was carried out with the user group forum and Te Matai Motorsport.
Mr Loughlin said the railway was in potential conflict with the recent discovery of a new drag strip alignment, based on better topographical data and different design constraints from the New Zealand Drag Racing Association. It would save $700,000 by halving earthmoving costs compared with the original alignment.
He said if the new site was confirmed for the drag strip and its peripheral areas, it would likely clash with the bush railway. The railway would also occupy an existing rally road and another proposed link road for which the initial alignment and tree clearing had already been done.
Mr Loughlin said Te Matai Motorsport was disappointed that so much work had already been done on the bush railway proposal in a complete absence of feedback from them.
But Mr Balfour said Te Matai Motorsport's proposal did not detail any specific activity for that area of the park and the railway and sawmill proposal did not seriously affect the motorsport proposal.
"It's a 380-hectare park and the area concerned is 2-3 hectares so it's a very small area of land. When we were looking through the railway proposal we couldn't see any problem or significant issue of adjusting the boundary because there was nothing for about 300 metres in the motorsport proposal," Mr Balfour said.
If the Te Matai Motorsport group had changed its proposal, it would need to show it to the council as soon as possible.
District council reserve facilities manager Peter Watson said the issue was similar to "the chicken and the egg" dilemma.
"Sometimes you can't discuss what's proposed until you see the detailed proposal."
Mr Balfour said the issue had "blown out of the water" and the park and council would do everything they could to accommodate everyone's needs.
Related story: Shantytown idea for TECT All Terrain Park

- Bay of Plenty Times

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