Members of Rotorua's athletic club say they feel they are being "shoved out" by a council proposal for a sport and recreation precinct.
On March 5, the Rotorua Lakes Council revealed concept plans for a sport and recreation "precinct" in Rotorua's southwest.
Lake City Athletic Club's training ground is located at Stadium Field 2, to the north of the Rotorua International Stadium.
Under the proposed plan, that training ground could move to Neil Hunt Park, just over five kilometres in Rotorua's west, where the group's clubrooms are located.
Club president Rob Colledge said he thought the idea of the precinct was "wonderful" but couldn't understand why an athletics facility wouldn't be a part of that.
"We're just not happy. It feels like we're being shoved aside ... we should be right in the middle of it."
He understood the ground at Neil Hunt Park was not suitable for the athletics club's use.
It would also need more parking, storage for athletics equipment, and to be made secure.
"They're going to have to spend an enormous amount to make it suitable."
He said the sport had been growing in Rotorua and he believed the club was the second largest in the country.
If the grass track at Stadium Field 2 was upgraded to a rubber track, it could attract international meets, and it would also be useful for athletes of other codes to use for cross-training, he said.
"That track would be in use … we would have groups from overseas to train for off-season."
Children's athletics coach Kelly Albrecht said she also supported the idea in principle and said it had "incorporated a lot of sports".
"Except one … why wouldn't you have an athletics track?
"It feels like athletics has been a bit shafted here."
She was "not anti-change" but agreed Neil Hunt Park would require a "massive upgrade".
Lake City was the "absolute talk" of athletics in New Zealand.
"We're leading the sport."
Lake City Athletics is not the only club disappointed by the proposal.
Springfield Golf Club president Paul Fox said in his opinion the council's process had been "a little bit underhand".
"Last week was the first time they actually spoke to us about it. And then they present us with basically fully blown plans.
"It feels like they've already made their mind up."
The council had visited the club on March 3 and announced the proposal on March 5.
Fox said the council should look at other options.
"We have 70 years of history here and they just want to wipe it."
He wasn't against kids sports but golf was a sport all ages could play.
Club membership had grown over the last three years by about 25 per cent.
In its proposal, the council said it was working with the golf club on "potential options" for the club "including the potential of relocating them to one of the two premier 18-hole golf courses in Rotorua".
Fox said the club was unlikely to amalgamate.
"We would just disappear, as far as I'm aware."
The course, on council-owned land, held a lease until 2027.
"We've got two local body elections before our lease expires. And all of this [proposal] could just disappear."
The club would be making a submission on the proposal as well as lobbying councillors.
"I don't know what our strategy is going to be because if they're adamant that's going ahead it's going ahead, what more can we do apart from have an occupation?"
George Spratt, a club member for 24 years, echoed Fox's views.
"We don't like the idea.
"The council's got better bloody things to do. They've got a museum to fix. The Howard Morrison centre to bloody fix. The lakefront. They've got to finish that off.
"Spend money on roads. We've got enough parks."
Councillor Raj Kumar, a Springfield Golf Club member who lives near the golf course said he would vote against the plan in its current form.
Next week he would be launching a petition opposing it which he planned to present to the council.
"This affects a lot of people."
The Rotorua Lakes Council was invited to respond to comments contained in this article but did not respond to the claims specifically, instead linking the Rotorua Daily Post to the council website and summarising "key information" in bullet points.
One of those bullet points provided by the council stated:
"[The] council has been and continues to engage with local sports field users, their regional and national sporting bodies, and existing users of the facilities involved to gain feedback and ideas for any future developments".
The council had spent $110,000 on a report that led to the proposal, with Sport NZ contributing $20,000 of that.
It had previously spent an additional $20,000 on a report which "looked at the quality and capacity of [Rotorua's] existing sports fields", according to a spokesman.
The spokesman also confirmed the proposed precinct had an estimated cost of $45 million.
If the plan was approved by the council, support for that would be sought from project partners, community funds and grants and central government, as well as the council's Long Term Plan and other channels, he said.
Sport and recreation lead councillor Sandra Kai Fong said the proposal was an "exciting concept".
"No decisions have been made. [The] council has and will undertake further consultation with the community and sports groups."
She encouraged people to submit feedback on the concept, which can be done by visiting the council's website.