By Julia wade
Conflict has again erupted over the future of local community grounds after the facility’s committee made a decision to not go ahead with plans for a multi-sports hub.
At a recent meeting on January 8, Mangawhai Domain Committee (DC) unanimously voted to reject the proposal from Mangawhai Football Club (MFC) to develop the Domain grounds for a range of sporting activities.
The decision comes after ongoing friction between the two groups escalated at the Domain’s annual general meeting in June last year. However at a second AGM held in October, it appeared both the DC and MFC had agreed to put their differences aside and work together.
In a statement sent to the Focus regarding the decision, the DC state that ‘it is important to clarify that there was never any formal acceptance of the MFC proposal’ and ‘suggestion[s] there was some agreement for the proposal to proceed at the [second] AGM… is incorrect. There was no discussion’.
They go on to say they requested MFC to present further planning details about the sports hub at a meeting on December 21, 2017. However ‘the information provided… consisted of a basic power point presentation that was first tabled on 14 November 2016, along with a site feasibility report which showed, among other things, some options for playing fields’.
‘Given the lack of clarity in that no building footprints or parking areas were shown, and the fact that the fields alone would consume a significant amount of the Domain grounds (more than 50 per cent of the available green space) and thus impact the availability of this space to the wider community, and also the concerns of neighbouring residents and Society members in general, the committee decided… supported by legal advice in relation to the Society Rules… to decline the MFC’s proposal’. They also say that any suggestion that personality clashes were involved is ludicrous.
Resignations not related
The January resignation by four committee members is also not directly related to the sports hub decision. Currently, the DC operates with seven members and, ‘as per the Rules of the Society the committee has the power to fill any vacancy that may occur, at a regular committee meeting’.
The recent decision will not affect the MFC’s use of the grounds throughout the football season and the clubs weekly bookings have already been confirmed.
‘Any suggestion the committee would discriminate against any potential user would be totally outside the ‘Objects of the Domain Society’ and not in keeping with the Domain being a place for our community as a whole to use and enjoy’.
The DC go on to state they believe the ‘number of emails’ from Domain members who support the decision ‘is confirmation that the majority wish to keep this open green space available for the community as a whole to use’.
However a number of Domain Society members are also questioning the decision. The Focus received several letters from members expressing their discontent, saying the decision ‘makes no sense’ and pressing the DC for further explanations.
One member asks how the proposal to turn an unused portion of the field regardless of area size into a surface that can be used for many sports and activities is detrimental to the community, and wants to know why the DC spoke to residents bordering the Domain and lawyers but not their own members. There has apparently been no discussion about this decision outside of the committee, so members have had no say.
Participants on local social media have also been busy discussing the decision in depth.
Football club views different
In a responding statement also sent to the Focus, MFC state that the DC media release is factually incorrect, adding the DC formally accepted and supported the proposal for upgrading the sports fields in a letter dated 19 December 2016. The vote was unanimous and was to improve the Domain for the community.
The letter said: ‘We had a presentation from Mangawhai Football Club going over the proposed future plans. The committee all voted in favour of these future plans. All present at the meeting agreed this would be of great benefit to our community, any future clubs or organisations…’
In addition, the Domain made the same proposal to the Mangawhai Town Planning Council in the same letter, 21 November 2016:
‘‘The Domain Society would like to see the development of these grounds further, for the use of sport and recreation for the greater Mangawhai Community. Long term it is our wish to see this facility become “the hub of sports” in Mangawhai, complementing MAZ as the main recreational facility’.
The letter also shows talk of the importance of the Summer Gala and ideas on how to manage parking facilities for the event, including walkways via the estuary and increased parking on Moir Street if a sports hub was to go ahead.
In their statement, MFC say they have ‘experienced great growth in numbers’ which they expect to continue, are keen to help provide better facilities for all activities believing sport is crucial to the community, especially local children, and ‘should be an integral part of what happens at the Domain’.
‘We understand that the Domain Committee has not consulted its membership to make its decision not to support the football club's proposal to improve the Domain facilities
for all of our community. This is disappointing. We ask the Domain Committee, the Domain Membership, the community and all interested parties to consider what future is best for the Domain’.
n To view the Mangawhai Domain Committee statement in full, visit www.mangawhaidomain.org.nz/resources.
One of Mangawhai Football Club’s proposed field layouts. Marked areas do not include additional building and parking space. – GRAPHIC/Supplied