Sports centre facilities priority accord dilemma

The job of reaching a consensus over what facilities get priority in Wanaka's new sports complex could be a tricky one.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is consulting the public as it gets set to make a start on a proposed $16 million facility in the Three Parks subdivision on the outskirts of Wanaka later this year.

Steering group chairman Duncan Good plans to deliver a list of priorities to the council in time for its meeting on March 27.

He suggested on Tuesday the budget was big enough to have an aquatic centre or an indoor sports facility in stage one, but not both.

A 2011 public survey by the council put an aquatic centre top of the priority list.

However, those with swimming interests spoken to by the Otago Daily Times this week threw up several different preferences - all of which have been debated for several years already.

One of the strongest voices in the call for better swimming facilities has been that of Mount Aspiring College board of trustees member Paul Tamati.

But he told the ODT he believed the Three Parks site was too far from schools.

The existing community pool is next door to the college.

''My concern now is that if it goes right out to Three Parks you have got to bus children out there. Who's paying for that?He suggested a centre would be better sited at Kellys Flat, in Aubrey Rd.

Wanaka Swim Academy owner Stacey Wells also thought the Three Parks site was too far from town for children to walk or cycle to but she favours a new pool facility at the Wanaka A&P grounds with facilities shared with existing sports there.

Mrs Wells believed Wanaka did not need an ''over the top'' aquatic centre but simply a learners' pool less than 1m deep, about 15m long and warmer than the existing community pool.

Those spoken to by the ODT at the pool yesterday morning pointed out the difficulty of fitting in groups as diverse as preschool children learning to swim and multisports athletes preparing for Challenge Wanaka.

The pool is kept at 28degC and 29degC, which is about 3degC too cold for small children, but on the warm side for adults in training.

Jo Goodwin, of Lake Hawea, said her two preschoolers tended to lose interest in swimming after five minutes.

''The pool is too deep and too cold for children,'' she said.

Wanaka Basketball Club president Kate Jerram agreed the town needed a new pool but she was unhappy the consultation process was ''playing off'' sporting codes against each other.

She believed the council needed to recognise the growth in the number of children in Wanaka and the lack of indoor facilities for them.

Those that did exist were small and in big demand from adults and children alike.

Mrs Jerram said the lack of facilities meant the basketball competition for 20 children's teams was held outside in summer rather than indoors during the basketball season.

A spokeswoman for the Upper Clutha Netball Centre said the organisation's stance during the previous debate had been that there was an urgent need for indoor courts for the hundreds of up-and-coming netballers.