Cycling Whanganui supports the roofing of Whanganui's velodrome and Option 2 in the Whanganui District Council's Long-Term Plan consultation document - funding of a roof to protect the asset.
It supports this for two reasons – firstly, it allows for the greater use of a unique recreation asset by the community.
This asset has been grossly underutilised due to its exposure to the weather.
Secondly, this asset represents one of the few strategically advantageous assets in our region that sets us apart economically while also allowing us to benefit from a health perspective.
Roofing the velodrome is a unique situation. The construction of the facility itself is not in question - it already exists.
It is readily accepted by everyone, even those in the cycling fraternity, that it would be impossible to justify building a velodrome from scratch if this was what was being proposed. It is not and we should embrace this unique opportunity.
Why Option 2?
This is affordable. When the council endorsed Option 2 as its preferred option this indicated they considered this to be affordable in respect of capital and operational expenditure required.
In reaching this position it has no doubt relied on the expertise of its own officers and has a supportive opinion from Audit New Zealand also. The consultation document affirms this.
This is responsible.
The preferred position still leaves an $11 million funding gap before the council's funding commitment of $9m is released.
Cycling Whanganui believes that, based on funding commitments previously made, it is possible to bridge this shortfall with external funding.
And while not without its challenges, it can be done in a timely manner to protect the asset.
This is respectful.
It has always been understood by community leaders that a roof was needed (even as far back as 1995 when it was being built).
Endorsing this option indicates the council recognises the responsibility it has to its community and has the courage to deliver on a commitment made to its community over two decades ago.
This is functional.
This is not a design debate. It is a funding debate.
The only significant design matter that has been determined at this time is that it has been proven that this asset can be protected for the quantum proposed under Option 2.
Those who would otherwise promote Option 3 have indicated they now believe they have a cheaper design option that is possible with proposed Option 2 funding.
It is strategic to the city.
The geographical location of Whanganui in relation to other velodromes compares favourably.
No similar facility exists anywhere else in the lower North Island and we must take advantage of this.
The clock is ticking.
This facility is rotting and needs action. At present, the facility has become unusable.
This option allows for a timely response to a 25-year-old commitment.
There is a need.
Comparable facilities in both Cambridge and Invercargill are well-utilised by their local communities despite starting from a low usage base.
There is no reason to not believe that this will be the case here. This is supported by external opinion that the council sought.
The independent Bramley report suggests a roofed velodrome here will attract 2000 track cycling hours per year. It requires committed people to support it.
Sport Whanganui, Sport NZ and Cycling NZ have all vouched support for protecting the asset. These organisations are not prone to flippant comment or action.
The people exist. The quality of the people who support and deliver activity in the facility is what will ultimately determine the success of it.
These people live in our community and are willing to give their time to support local participation and to attract regional and national events here.
This is a true partnership between the council and a community organisation for the good of the whole community.
Cycling Whanganui has been working hard to ensure it is ready to provide the structure around that support.
It has been planning and renewing itself, putting community participation and youth to the fore. It will donate its clubrooms as part of the facility.
Operating costs are a significant part of the cost of any council facility and Cycling Whanganui has committed to assisting with operating the facility during its establishment and to reduce operating costs through not needing to hire staff.
The contribution of the Regional Velodrome Development Trust in getting us to this point must be acknowledged.
Other options have also been presented in the council's LTP consultation document.
Why not Option 1?
This is the cheapest option but seems ludicrous. Destroy a community asset that no other region around us has? Surely, I am not reading and hearing this right.
This option deserves little attention.
Doing so would be to disrespect the long-held views of the community.
In my discussions, it has been hard to find support for this anywhere. Even the most ardent of those who seek to limit rates rises (myself included) find it hard to deny the community an asset that evidence indicates will deliver future economic benefit and participation opportunities.
Why not option 3?
This is the bells-and-whistles option. Why not? It's simply about dollars.
It fails the financial sniff test and the velodrome can be protected for $16m less of everyone's money.
It is not responsible, there are better uses of ratepayer money, even in cycling, and all reports are consistent on this point.
It is doubted that the gap indicated can actually be funded.
Even with the most optimistic of estimates of what central government and others will lob into the pot, that's a lot of sausages sizzles, meat raffles and garage sales.
All the while, time ticks and the facility rots - and even those initially supporting this say they have found other, more affordable options to promote.
Enough said. To not do this now is to not do anything ever.
Cycling Whanganui accepts that not everyone will see this opportunity the same way.
But Cycling Whanganui believes we all want the best for our community, our city and its future and this is a small slice of safeguarding that belief.
Consider the options through this lens and make a submission.
• Ian Murphy is the president of Cycling Whanganui.