After reading the 39-page report commissioned by the FNDC on the proposed new Sports Hub, I have serious concerns on the viability of this project.

The Global Leisure Group has identified areas of concern in management, size of the proposed pool and the age of many of the sports grounds and facilities.

My concerns relate to previous and recent statements from FNDC about the siting of the proposed new pool and Hub.

As a community board member when Yvonne Sharp was Mayor, I was involved in the investigation for a new heated pool in Kaitāia.

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The pool committee considered options to rebuild the pool where it is now, looked at the southern end of town, and were also offered the land west of JNL (who also offered to provide the heating of the pool using the steam run-off), which at the time I thought was an offer not to refuse.

But then all of these were deemed inappropriate because of reasons of distance from town, the unavailability of parking facilities at the old pool site and the flood risk, and the then engineers at council informed the committee they would not support a multi-million project being built on the Kaitāia flood plain.

Kaitāia College was then approached, along with the Education Board, with the idea of building the pool on the top playing field adjacent to Norman Senn Avenue, but the college and Education Board did not seem interested in providing any funding for this project, which was disappointing to say the least.

After this the idea of a new pool fell by the wayside for a number of years, until the Hub proposal came to light.

This statement about the pool has reared its head again in this report with the FNDC (section 10.8.1) stating "The FNDC has stated in the last two long term-plans that they will no longer pay for major repairs. The current pool location is unsuitable due to flooding and space limitations."

So why on Earth are they backing a plan to build a multi-million-dollar facility on the proposed site, which is also prone to flooding?

A survey through the Northland Age asked the question, Who would support a sports hub in Kaitāia? Without any knowledge of costs involved, the public agreed this was a good idea, and the first committee was formed to investigate this idea.

Now, at least four years on, I would say that at least 90 per cent of the public and ratepayers could not name the people on the committee, and we have never seen any building costs, financial records or anything pertaining to monetary matters, except for proposed loans by council $2.5 million for development of the first stage) and the possibility of Lotto funding and government grants.

I personally believe all the proposed costs of building this facility, ongoing costs, including repairs and maintenance, should be made public for all to see, along with a projected income source to help run this facility.

We as ratepayers are at present, and in the future, being burdened with the costs of the Te Ahu Centre, and I for one am not prepared to pay extra rates for a complex that will no doubt run into financial difficulties in the future.

At present we understand we will be paying a targeted rate, whereas ratepayers in close proximity will pay a lot more towards this project than those living elsewhere.

If this facility is available to all living in Te Hiku Ward, surely this targeted rate is not only unfair, I believe it is highly questionable.

So I am not requesting, I am demanding a full financial report be made available to all people living in our Northern Ward.

I have seen a serious downturn in nearly all sporting codes, not only in our area, and these have been caused by many reasons.

Fact: Since professional sport arrived, funding for amateur sport has been depleted to such a state that all clubs are struggling to survive. Numbers participating in most codes are noticeably getting lower year by year, caused by many factors: Work commitments (shift work and six working days a week for many), cost of equipment and maintenance, cost of travel, lack of commitment to a given code.

The major influence, I believe, is the electronic age of computers, the internet, cell phones, Facebook, and unfortunately the fact that there is a huge void between being a young sports person and then failing to transition into the senior sports codes.

Fact: Winter team numbers are down considerably every year due to a lot of the above reasons.

Our summer codes are nearly all gone up here, and it is not lack of available grounds etc. I believe that a major cause is our outdoor summer pursuits of swimming, fishing, boating, camping etc, in a place we are privileged to live in and to explore.

These opinions are not mine alone, and I to hope this message gets through to those who will make the decisions, but please remember that we the public need to have a say and be informed of decisions made before they are implemented.

I also understand that the Hub committee approached the FNDC recently requesting up to $50,000 extra as a loan, to pay for a co-ordinator.

We the public need to be informed of these requests. In other words, let's keep the financial side open for all to see so we can understand what the committee is doing.

I call these actions of the committee a closed door policy, which to me is not a good look.

MIKE RIDER
Kaitāia