Years of effort to be rewarded

Celebrating the completion of the roof on Arrowtown’s new sports and community centre in June are...
Celebrating the completion of the roof on Arrowtown’s new sports and community centre in June are (from left) Queenstown district councillor Craig Ferguson, Central Lakes Trust grants programme and policy manager Vicci Lawrence, Community Trust of Southland trustee Warren Skerrett, Arrowtown Rugby Club president and sports centre trust secretary Simon Spark and Arrowtown ward councillor Scott Stevens. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
After 12 years of blood, sweat, toil, fundraising and, from time to time, frustration, the finishing touches are being put on the Arrowtown Community Centre at Jack Reid Park before it opens next weekend. Tracey Roxburgh talks to two of the men involved in the project throughout its history about the finished product.

The finish line is in sight.

Twelve years ago a "needs analysis" was done for a new community and sports facility, based at Jack Reid Park, in Arrowtown. Next weekend that building, the Arrowtown Community Centre, formerly known as the Arrowtown Sports and Community Facility, will be opened.

The building proper has been finished, and some final work is still to be done outside.

It will become the home to the Arrowtown Scouts and Arrowtown Rugby Club, as well as a wide variety of other community groups and users in the village, and it will be available for private hire.

In spring work began on upgrading the playing field which had involved pitch levelling, lengthening, resurfacing and drainage.

Light realignment was to have been done, but that proved too difficult, as the lights had been set in the ground in concrete.

Arrowtown Rugby Club president Simon Spark, who is also the Arrowtown Community and Sports Centre Trust secretary, said it was exciting to finally see the project nearing an end, but there was also a level of apprehension.

"We’ve never had this before.

Arrowtown Rugby Club president and Arrowtown Community and Sports Centre Inc secretary Simon...
Arrowtown Rugby Club president and Arrowtown Community and Sports Centre Inc secretary Simon Spark (left) with Arrowtown ward councillor Scott Stevens inside the new Arrowtown Community Centre at Jack Reid Park. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
"We’re a club that’s been transient, that’s been pushed from pillar to post, that’s moved around and now we’ve got a wonderful facility so we have to put structures in place to actually have a club and a home.

"The club committee and members have got to step up ...  and take some ownership of it."

Arrowtown ward councillor Scott Stevens quipped it was "almost too flash for Arrowtown".

"The referees won’t know what to do with themselves; the visiting teams will want to come here and they’re even going to have hot water.

"It’s not just a rugby club, but when the rugby club is playing out here over winter it’s a very harsh environment, ...  having a warm, insulated building is going to be a game changer.

"I think it’s fantastic.

"It’s a testament to this bloke [Mr Spark] and the rest of the committee of the Arrowtown Community and Sports Centre Inc for all of the work that’s gone into it, getting all the funding together and persevering with design over a decade."

The interior has been left largely neutral to reflect its status as a community facility, but panels had been created by Lakes District Museum director David Clark, graphic designer Melissa Hinves, of Arrowtown’s Apt Design, and pupils from Arrowtown School to hang along the main hall, representing Arrowtown.

A tunnel leading from the rugby changing rooms to the field will feature images and photos to represent the club.

"Arrowtown Rugby Club still needs to make it their home and Arrowtown still needs to put its touch on it," Mr Stevens said.

The former Arrowtown Camping Ground main block later became home to the Arrowtown Rugby Club.  It...
The former Arrowtown Camping Ground main block later became home to the Arrowtown Rugby Club. It was demolished in 2015 to make way for the new Arrowtown Community Centre. Photo: ODT
Mr Spark said the home team’s changing room would be fitted out "Twickenham-style", with individual cubicles for players while the bathroom and shower doors in that room were coloured "Arrowtown red".

A bonus of the project was the upgraded field, which would hopefully mean home games could be played at the ground all through the winter season, even if that meant the side continued training at the Queenstown Events Centre.

"Likely we’ll be told more when we can and can’t be here — if the winter conditions are leaning towards having frosts, snow, rain, we don’t want to ruin it," Mr Spark said.

"To play and train on the same ground for the whole season is a big call.

"The events centre is a good training facility [and] there’s no point in killing the ground [here], so it’s a balancing act."

While one home game at the new facility was likely early this season, its first major game, against Wakatipu, would be held at Easter, during the club’s jubilee, on April 20.

Mr Spark hoped that would be a White Horse Cup defence for the home side.

The new Arrowtown Community Centre at Jack Reid Park which will be officially opened next weekend...
The new Arrowtown Community Centre at Jack Reid Park which will be officially opened next weekend. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
He said the last 12 years of hard work was worth it and gave credit to the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which will manage the building, for its assistance."It would not have happened without the council.

"They put a lot of money into the things you don’t see [and] as much as we were hard on the council early on, through the last two or three years, definitely since [sport and recreation manager] Simon Battrick started, there’s been a more interactive approach."

While it "took far too long" for the dream to become a reality, it served as an example of what could be achieved with the council and community working  together, he said.

Mr Stevens paid tribute to the Wilding Trust which provided $50,000 of seed funding.

Without that the project would not have been possible.

The building, which cost about $1.5 million, had been "ring-fenced" for community funders and while funders including the Central Lakes Trust and the Community Trust of Southland, had put in "big money", they would not provide grants "until the whole project was completely funded on paper".

"We needed money to get it moving," Mr Stevens said.

"[The Wilding Trust] provided $50,000 which enabled the initial work to begin, so something could get on paper to take to other funders."

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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