Mangawhai residents have lodged a petition calling on Kaipara District Council (KDC) to pay out $800,000 to complete their new Olympic standard skate park.
Six members of the Mangawhai Activity Zone (MAZ) Charitable Trust and 40 other residents signed a petition to council saying the park deserved to receive $800,000 from Kaipara's Reserve Contribution Fund as it qualified for the criteria and would attract more visitors to the district.
The existing activity zone has a range of features, including a skate park, several sports fields, biking tracks, a playground, walking tracks and barbecue facilities.
The MAZ trust wants to extend the area by an international standard skate park where Kiwi Olympians can train and hold competitions instead of having to go overseas to pursue a career.
Skateboarding was meant to debut at the Olympic Games this year in Tokyo.
On the petition information sheet handed over to council, the MAZ trust states that since Mangawhai generated the majority of revenue going into the Reserve Contribution Fund, council had the responsibility to spend more money in the Mangawhai catchment area.
The trusts says most money was spent on the Dargaville side of Kaipara, which they deemed unfair.
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KDC agrees that the activity zone was an asset for the district, and ensuring that it meets the needs of the community was paramount for the council.
"Kaipara council supports the park through the Mangawhai Community Park Governance Committee, and where possible will look to balance our limited available funding and the needs of the district as a whole," spokesperson Ben Hope said.
From 2015-19, MAZ received a combined total of $198,205.10 in funding from the KDC: $28,607.95 from the Community Grants Fund and $169,597.15 from the Mangawhai Endowment Lands Account.
The money that the trust now claims would come from the Reserve Contribution Fund (RCF) which was adopted by council in May 2019 as part of the Long Term Plan 2018/2028.
Council allows for part of the RCF payments to be publicly contested – in form of the Reserve Contribution Contestable Fund – with KDC being one of few councils in New Zealand to do so.
The Reserve Contribution Contestable Fund is the district-wide limited of $300,000 over three years. The rest of the reserve contribution (80 per cent) is spent through the long term plan, which is consulted with the community and will be spent in the catchment in which it was collected.
"The district-wide applicable figure of $300,000 was arrived at through multiple meetings and iterations to ensure council met its obligations of utilising Reserve Contributions legally, in the areas they were collected, alongside ensuring the funding in the Long Term Plan 2018/2028 was met appropriately," Hope explained.
The first round of the district-wide Reserve Contribution Contestable Fund was held in December 2019, and MAZ received $170,000 out of that for a pump track – an additional park feature that can be used by skateboarders, scooter riders and mountain bikers.
Another application by MAZ for a $391,326.53 skate bowl was rejected as it would have exceeded the total amount available through the fund.
"We were delighted to be able to support three community projects in this first year. The next funding round opens on 1 June," Hope said.
Council discussed the petition lodged in February this year at Wednesday's council meeting and expressed willingness to work with MAZ on their funding issues.
Initial recommendation from Mangawhai Community Park Governance Committee was to consider the Olympic skate park in the next long-term plan. That way, MAZ could be eligible for more funding through the RCF.
For that to happen, however, engagement with the community will need to demonstrate that the project is seen as a priority for Mangawhai. KDC said on Wednesday, that council staff would help assess the community support for the MAZ skate park.
Council would also help investigate actual costs to complete the project.
MAZ trustees said they weren't able to comment at this stage.