Proposal for community park moves a step closer

By Hannah Norton

A charitable trust's major plans for a 92-hectare ratepayer-owned site at Ruakaka appear closer to fruition.

Motocross, BMX and four-wheel-drive tracks, a shooting facility, a man-made recreational lake and a large youth centre for the disabled and disadvantaged are among the Black Douglas Charitable Trust's plans for the community activity park.

Whangarei MP Phil Heatley backs the concept and has offered his support for funding applications, after he visited the site recently.

The trust placed an official expression of interest in the Northland Regional Council-owned land at end of Flyger Rd, excluding the designated area required for the rail link, but found themselves - unable to secure the land if unable to secure the funding, and vice-versa. But earlier this month, after overwhelming public support for the venture, trustees Andreas Thirling and Terry Douglas met Vaughan Cooper, the growth and infrastructure manager at the NRC, to discuss costs for the trust leasing the land.

Mr Douglas said while it was agreed a lease for the entire 92 hectares would be "beyond the resources of the BDCT", the farmer who is leasing the whole block would continue to do so with a cost adjustment made for the loss of the area required for the initial start-up activities of the project.

"The NRC (is) looking for a reasonable return for their considerable financial outlay," he said.

The first step would be making the shooting range, which would be almost instantly commercially viable, and could support the next stages of development, Mr Douglas said. "We need to determine the area of land required, and then enter into negotiation with the NRC to lease this area to start the development."

The plans have received overwhelming support from gun and shooting clubs across the North Island. Sporting Shooter Association of New Zealand president Phil Creegan said the association "fully support[s] the concept of a recreational park at Flyger Rd that will incorporate a multi-discipline shooting range".

The NRC wants BDCT to have an action plan by the end of February.

- Northern Advocate

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