Six years of failed attempts to get a multimillion dollar sailing facility in Takapuna, Auckland, has finally led Yachting New Zealand (YNZ) to be “investigating” an alternative site in Gulf Harbour.
Both Minister for Sport Jonathan Coleman and Sport NZ chief executive officer Peter Miskimmin said that YNZ is “investigating a potential site” at Gulf Harbour on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast.
The Gulf Harbour region is 20km north of YNZ’s ideal location on Takapuna Beach.
The statements from Coleman and Miskimmin come only four days after Auckland Council chief executive officer Dean Kimpton refused to provide detail over YNZ’s interest in Gulf Harbour on October 5.
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“Yachting New Zealand has advised the council it remains committed to a High Performance facility in the Auckland region, particularly on the North Shore. There is no formal council-led consultation at this stage with any Local Boards as a preferred site is still to be confirmed,” Kimpton said.
Huge community objection since 2010 has prevented the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board from granting landowner consent to YNZ for a lease of Takapuna Beach Reserve.
Unfortunately for YNZ, according to Auckland councillors for the Albany ward John Watson and Wayne Walker, the Gulf Harbour site is equally as contentious as Takapuna.
The Hammerhead grassy section of the Gulf Harbour marina area is considered a likely spot for YNZ’s “investigation”, because it has a secured 700 square meter commercial lease, yet to be taken up by businessman James Speedy of Harbour Investments Limited.
“The danger is that licensee could do a backroom deal with the High Performance yachting people that the council, the community, the yachties, people who launch boats here, aren’t party to, that cuts them out of their say as to what should happen here,” Walker says.
Another major issue with YNZ’s Gulf Harbour investigation is that $3 million of funds it has stashed away for the facility from Auckland Council in 2010 was obtained from land sales in Auckland’s old North Shore City.
The possible new Gulf harbour site is in the Rodney district, and Auckland Councillor for the North Shore Ward Chris Darby has issues with North Shore funds being spent on a sporting facility outside their district.
“This is national sporting facility and Auckland Council has got to be very careful about the use of its public money, and that $3 million came from the old North Shore City and it would be totally inappropriate to apply that outside the old North Shore area,” Darby says.
“We’ve got some huge core infrastructure demands and transport and I would be very surprised if the new council had an appetite for spending $3 million on a yachting facility.”
Yachting New Zealand chief executive office David Abercrombie was contacted for comment for this article.