$1 deal would see site go to biking body

By Mike Dinsdale

Regional cycling body Bike Northland could end up finally having a permanent base on Whangarei's Pohe Island after the district council voted, in principle, to sell the old Paper Reclaim building at the site to them for $1.

But the decision was not without much debate after councillor Brian McLachlan brought a notice of motion to councillors last week seeking to confirm the deal.

Cr McLachlan said the council first promised Bike Northland the building in 2007, which is right beside the city's "world class" BMX track.

He said his motion would give Bike Northland some certainty and time to assess repairs needed. It would also let council staff work on a sale and lease agreement while the Pohe Island management plan review was being carried out.

It was that plan review that saw several councillors oppose the motion, with Warwick Syers saying the council would not be following due process if it voted for the motion and would also be seen as predetermining the review.

Cr Syers suggested that some councillors had been negotiating in secret with Bike Northland while there would be a "public outcry" if other councillors were doing the same with the Northland Rugby Union.

The NRU wants to build a 1640sq m, two-storey headquarters on Pohe Island to share with the Old Boys Marist Rugby Club and the Northland Rugby Referees Association.

Bike Northland coordinator Stu Bell said getting the building was just the first part of a wider development of cycling in the district and once a sale and lease agreement had been signed the body could apply for grants to help pay for the much needed repairs to the building.

Mr Bell said it was pleasing the matter finally went before the council, although it did take a notice of motion to do so.

He said the body was also talking to other associated activities, such as orienteering and triathlon, about possibly being housed in the facility.

Councillors voted in principle to sell it the old Paper Reclaim building on Pohe Island for $1 and develop a ground lease so it can create a cycle activity area.

- Northern Advocate

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