A decision has been made today on the future of Yarrow Stadium.
Taranaki Regional Councillors voted at today's council meeting on an amended option to fix Yarrow Stadium, reducing the cost by over $5 million. Councillor Mike Davey was the only councillor absent from today's meeting.
The amendment was to the second option originally recommended. The amendment brings the cost of option two down from $55.69 million. The stadium project budget is up to $50 million, with outer field updates on hold pending further discussions with the wider sporting community.
The $50 million covers repairs to the earthquake-prone grandstand and consequential changes, and important updates including additional food and beverage outlets and toilets, technology upgrades, LED pitch lighting, car park improvements, maintenance and grounds storage sheds, gate improvements, new South Terrace seating and reinstatement of field one.
Eight options were originally released, with Taranaki Regional Council preferring option two. The public had their say on the Yarrow Stadium Proposal through the submission process.
The amendment came after those submissions were heard last week. Of the 526 submissions received, over half were in favour of repairing the two stands at risk of earthquake damage, but not in favour of further upgrades.
Taranaki Regional Council Chairman, David MacLeod, says he's pleased with the way the community took part in the consultation process leading up to today's decisions.
"We heard from a lot of different people with a lot of different views, some of them more informed than others. It's always challenging to assess a large number opinions and suggestions, but I was glad so many people took the opportunity to participate."
During the discussion at today's meeting, councillor David Lean said he acknowledged the frustration of other sports codes regarding the focus on rugby.
"There was a real frustration during the submission process. We acknowledge the frustration. The Taranaki Regional Council cannot spend money on anything except their own assets. I ask people to take their frustration up with people who can solve their problems."
The councillors present voted unanimously for the amended second option to be adopted.
Ratepayer funding for Yarrow Stadium is currently split between New Plymouth (78 per cent), Stratford (five per cent) and South Taranaki (17 per cent). An annual stadium rates levy was proposed to cover the cost, and the recommended amendment reduces this for Stratford and South Taranaki residents from $50.98 to $47.30, and for New Plymouth and North Taranaki from $75.81 to $70.34, excluding GST.
Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke says the Stratford District Council did not make a formal submission.
"The Stratford District Council did not formally submit to the Taranaki Regional Council on this issue but encouraged people to submit and express their views as individuals."
One Stratford ratepayer to submit was Stratford District Councillor Grant Boyde.
"It was very important to submit because there is a lot of hardship out there. My personal view is that only $33 million should be spent, without the enhancements being added.
"I don't have an issue with it being repaired to the earthquake codes and regulations but I do have a issue with the amount of money they want to spend when it would be used better in our local community, supporting our local businesses and our community wellbeing."
The South Taranaki District Council made a submission to the Taranaki Regional Council regarding the Yarrow Stadium proposal. Their submission stated they were in favour of a modified option two, with the modifications being to repair the stands at the cost of around $33 million and defer the additional upgrades estimated at $19-22 million, or to seek external funding to pay for the additional upgrades.
South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop accepts doing nothing isn't an option, and says the council support s the structural repair of the stands at Yarrow Stadium.
"However, we believe that Taranaki Regional Council's preferred option two at $55 million, being funded entirely from rates, imposes an unreasonably large burden and rate increase in one year. Consequently, Council doesn't support any of the options in the Consultation Document."
Ross says the South Taranaki District Council also believes Taranaki Regional Council should comply with the Taranaki Regional Council Empowering Act 2001 which says any capital expenditure requires the three Councils' approval.
"I think this would be an outcome that was fair to rugby, other sports and to the ratepayers of Taranaki."
Zanta Jones, the Capability and Physical Activity Lead for Sport Taranaki says Sport Taranaki also put in a submission for the Yarrow Stadium proposal.
"Our written and oral submissions focused of the appropriate scale of facility for the region given the changing trends in spectator sport, the robustness of the consultation process and the $19 million of proposed enhancements in Taranaki Regional Council's preferred option and how these align with the Taranaki Regional Sport and Recreation Facility Strategy."