Court case holds up $1m project

By Annette Lambly

Impending court action taken against the Kaipara District Council by a ratepayer group will delay completion of a $1 million-plus community facility at Mangawhai Park.

Last week the council delayed consideration of the application for a grant of $130,000 by the Mangawhai Activity Zone Charitable Trust (MAZ) pending the outcome of a judicial review, which was sought by the Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association.

Part of the association's claim involves development contributions paid into the Reserves Fund, from which the grant would be made.

In 2009, MAZ leased a portion of the council-owned park to create a community activity zone. Construction began in 2010, after the council granted $200,000 towards the initial stages of the project, on the understanding the trust would raise additional funding on a dollar for dollar basis.

Much of the work to date, including the completion of two skate bowls which were opened in 2011, has been achieved by volunteers, donated services and material, and grants to the value of $594,000 from outside providers and members of the community.

The new application was intended for the completion of stage two of the project - a street plaza and the construction of a 200 metre path around the children's play area.

Stage three was to be completed over the next 3-4 years.

In a presentation to the council last Tuesday, MAZ said they expected it would cost around $600,000 to complete the activity park.

They also signalled that ongoing work would require the council to commit $80,000 per annum over the next three years.

Commissioner Colin Dale commended the group on their work to date but noted the association's legal action could have implications on the Reserve Fund. He included in the recommendation for the delay that the council support the trust in the development of a business plan, which would include future capital and maintenance requirements.

Following the meeting, MAZ spokesman Simon Bennett said: "Obviously we are disappointed [with the delay] and hope the matters are resolved as soon as possible so we can progress."

He said the activity park was a free public facility.

"We feel we couldn't tick any more of the criteria boxes."

He said MAZ would continue to work hard to obtain outside funding, but acknowledged the application delay would halt the majority of the project.

A spokesperson for the residents and ratepayers association declined to comment on matters relating to the court action.

- Northern Advocate

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