A Hastings lobby group opposed to the construction of a 8000cu m water reservoir in a public park fears the structure will "industrialise" the popular amenity.
Hastings District Council has proposed to build and operate a water treatment and storage facility in Frimley Park, which includes a reservoir 38m in diameter and 9m tall to roof level, with a 6m-high domed roof and a utility building with a 480sq m floor area.
Four bores will also be installed.
It also proposes to remove existing maintenance sheds and reinstate the area as a usable park to offset park space, which will be used by the proposed infrastructure.
The lobby, Friends of Frimley Park, led by spokeswoman Frances Shotter, said it wanted the park to be classified as a recreational reserve.
"Frimley Park belongs to our community, having been gifted to the people of Hastings by Elsie Williams in 1951/52 for use as a public park and for recreation in perpetuity."
Shotter made a submission opposing the proposal and was heard at a commissioner's hearing on July 17.
Council director major capital projects delivery, Graeme Hansen, said treatment and storage facilities such as that proposed at the park "ensure our city has a drinking water supply treated to the highest possible standards, and that there is enough drinking water (resilience of supply) for daily needs and during times of emergency".
The proposal is part of the council's drinking water strategy and funding has been allocated under the council's 2018-2028 long-term plan which comes after the Havelock North drinking water contamination crisis in 2016.
Shotter said the group is not opposed to the infrastructure but claims the reservoir should be built in an industrial area.
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She also said council wanted to classify the park as a local purpose reserve, which she claimed would allow council to "treat it as a place for establishing council utility infrastructure", which would "industrialise" the park and lead to "further destruction of parkland and trees".
Yet council said no decision to classify the park had been made, and that the site was chosen because it's near an existing bore and connections to existing pipe work.
Hansen said it was "likely" that only the part of Frimley Park with the water treatment plant would be classified as local purpose, "with the majority of the park being retained for open space and recreation".
He said any claim of further industrial developments and destruction of parkland is "incorrect and misleading".
An online petition opposing the proposal has gathered about 2900 signatures which Shotter said "clearly demonstrates the high level of community opposition to this industrial project".
A council spokeswoman said at the commissioner's hearing the council's legal counsel argued there were good reasons the petition could not be given any weight.
The council's reply submission document says the petition "contains emotive and factually incorrect statements" such as the claim council did not notify the public.
Community engagement and consultation included public council meetings in 2019, a park open day in 2019, letters to immediately affected residents and residents in the Frimley area.
There is a delivery timeframe of June 2021. The commissioner's decision is expected in the next few weeks.
In September last year, in the midst of a Hastings District mayoral race, details of a multimillion-dollar Water Central Facility in Hastings was leaked to Hawke's Bay Today. That initial concept was abandoned earlier this year.
Council then launched a $25,000 investigation to find the source of the leak, which came up empty handed.