Artificial turf stays in plan by one vote

Kate Wilson
Kate Wilson
An artificial turf, seen by Dunedin City Council staff as the future of sports fields in Dunedin, stayed in the city's annual plan by a single vote yesterday.

A heated debate on the issue made it one of the more passionate yesterday afternoon.

Cr Kate Wilson said the turf had slipped into the plan with little discussion, and there were "a lot of questions" to be answered about it.

She moved to have it put in a list of unfunded items for the public to discuss during consultation.

But fellow Greater Dunedin councillor Richard Thomson responded her views were "unfair".

He had attended "numerous meetings" of the working party that had helped develop the Logan Park redevelopment, and there had been "a huge amount of consultation".

The artificial turf was one of the only aspects of the Logan Park plan that had survived budget cuts because it was the most sensible and rational part of the budget.

The plan for redevelopment of Logan Park was adopted in 2006.

In September last year, the council decided to defer some aspects to save money.

Items kept included the multipurpose artificial turf between the former art gallery building and Butts Rd.

Staff said in a report to yesterday's annual plan meeting the turf was a high priority, and would be part of a Sports House, a sports hub development in the former art gallery building.

Floodlights already in place would allow the turf to be used up to 98 hours a week, and mean a lower level of maintenance could be applied to other sports fields, which would be used less.

Community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said artificial turf was an international trend, and something all the sports organisations involved in consultation "signed off on".

As it could be used much more often than grass, it meant sports fields could be used for other recreational activities.

Cr Syd Brown said Des Smith, who put together a proposal on Logan Park for the council, had worked with Sport Otago on the very difficult job of getting sports organisations to agree on the issue, and he did not want that work "upset".

Cr Wilson responded playground improvements had been cut from the budget, and there was a principle involved.

Her motion was lost five votes to six, with Crs Wilson, Chris Staynes, Jinty MacTavish, Teresa Stevenson and Mayor Dave Cull voting for, and Crs Brown, Thomson, Colin Weatherall, Neil Collins, Paul Hudson and Andrew Noone against.


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