Impact of council cuts becoming clear

The Logan Park tennis courts are in a state of disrepair. Photo by Jane Dawber.
The Logan Park tennis courts are in a state of disrepair. Photo by Jane Dawber.
The number of cuts being made by the Dunedin City Council to projects across the city will have far-reaching effects.

As the council sits this week to deal with high rates rises and debt as part of its annual plan deliberations, which started yesterday, those issues are becoming clear.

One of the projects to be discussed is the Logan Park redevelopment.

Council community and recreations services manager Mick Reece yesterday gave an example of the Dunedin Amenities Society, which had already bought trees that were to replace poplar trees at the park.

But a decision to defer landscaping as part of cost savings meant the trees would not be required for planting for five or six years.

The delay meant the society, and other groups, would become "jaded" by the experience, Mr Reece said.

Mick Reece
Mick Reece
Improvements to tennis courts were another issue identified in a report from parks manager Lisa Wheeler, to be considered at the meetings.

The report noted the facilities were reaching "a critical state of disrepair", and the deferral "puts this facility at risk".

Mayor Dave Cull said yesterday much of the problem came back to council-owned holding company Dunedin City Holdings Ltd's revelation last year it could not provide the $8 million of dividends it was asked for by the council.

Those dividends were called for as the council faced high levels of debt for projects including the Forsyth Barr Stadium, and the issue would be "part of the narrative" at the meetings this week.

The plan for redevelopment of Logan Park was adopted in 2006, with a budget of $12.4 million.

It was put on hold while the stadium was being developed, and in September last year, the council decided to defer some aspects to save money.

Items kept in the 2012-13 budget included a multi-purpose artificial turf between the former art gallery building and Butts Rd.

Ms Wheeler's report noted the turf was a "high priority", and would be part of a "Sports House", a sports hub development in the former art gallery building housing Sport Otago and the Otago Polytechnic Institute of Sport and Adventure.

Floodlights already in place would allow the turf to be used up to 98 hours a week.

Improvements to the Logan Park tennis courts were deferred to 2017-18, though stakeholder expectations were that the work would be carried out within the next two to three years.

A specialised artificial football turf was deferred to 2018-19, despite Fifa wanting it for the 2015 Under 20 World Cup, and its status as "an invaluable facility to have in place" before the event.

Mr Reece yesterday said all the items that made up the development were desirable.

As he told people who had been raising concerns about it, decisions to defer had been made for financial reasons.

Another report to the annual plan meeting said Sport Otago and the Otago Polytechnic were finalising negotiations with the council to lease the old art gallery.

A "brief progress report" from council property manager Robert Clark said plans had progressed for the proposal, costs had been finalised, draft leases drawn up and "verbal intent from both tenants to commit to leases" confirmed.

Yesterday's meeting was held with the public excluded, but today and tomorrow will be public. Mr Cull said councillors got a clarification from staff to help them decide what they wanted in or out of the budget.



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