Major upgrade only sporting solution for failing park

Centennial Park

A growing population and deteriorating facilities have left Wellsford’s Centennial Park in need of a serious upgrade.

Members of the Wellsford and Districts Sport and Recreation Collective have all aired concerns about the capacity of the park and its poor drainage.

The problem took its first toll last month, when the Wellsford Tennis Club had to surrender its lease to Auckland Council as it can’t afford to maintain the courts.

Wellsford and Districts Sport and Recreation Collective chair Wendy Crow-Jones says she had hoped council would deal with the drainage issue, but this was not the case.

“Three of the four courts are now unplayable. Until Council decide to improve them, we will be playing at Wellsford School,” Wendy says.

“I got in touch with Council a while ago about sorting out the problem and they responded to say they would investigate. That was the last I heard.”

Auckland Council head of active recreation Rob McGee acknowledges the message was received, but says Council’s response was to remind the club that maintenance was its responsibility under the lease terms.

Meanwhile, the Rodney Netball Centre is considering the option of giving up its lease and has recognised a need for more courts if it wants to continue servicing the region.

Rodney Netball Centre committee member Lynette Gubb says the centre services clubs from Puhoi to Ruawai and is at capacity, with around 900 players.

“We can’t fit any more rounds into our junior or senior competitions, so we are going to need more courts as the area grows to continue offering netball to everyone,” Lynette says.

Poor drainage has also hit the netball courts hard with excess water damaging the surface coat.

“It costs around $90,000 to resurface all six courts and after doing that in the last couple of years it’s not financially viable to continue the exercise regularly.

“The work required is no longer maintenance, it’s a full upgrade that we can’t afford.”

Wellsford Rugby Club does not lease its fields and is hoping Council will take action to improve them this summer.

Wellsford Rugby Club committee member Mick Sweetman says although one field had drainage work done on it this year, the surrounding area still suffers from excess water.

“Hopefully Council will upgrade that area when they do the second field at the end of this year,” Mick says.

The collective’s long-term goal is to develop the park into a facility like the Warkworth Showgrounds.

To help give direction for this idea, Council funded consultants Visitor Solutions to make a report on challenges and priority projects for sport in Wellsford, which was released in March.
Drainage upgrades to the park were included, along with improved foot and cycle path access.
Wendy believes the report is a good start, but says the direction forward still isn’t clear.

“The report helped us to bring all of the clubs together and give us a picture of sport in Wellsford, but I will be talking with Visitor Solutions about how we actually get these projects done.”
Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith says the upgrades are long overdue and is pleased to see progress finally being made.

“Very little has been done to the park since the days of County Council,” Mr Smith says.

“We now need to work out where the money is going to come from and that could mean selling off land elsewhere so we can develop a great centralised facility.”


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