Nelson Park poll will run three months
Hastings people must mobilise and vote “no” to the sale of Nelson Park, Sustaining Hawke’s Bay Trust chairman Kevin Trerise said today.
Hastings people will finally be able to say whether they support the sale of the park, in a postal ballot referendum planned for September. Polling will close on November 9.
Mr Trerise said the timing of the referendum was “interesting”. It was planned just before an Environment Court hearing over appeals from supermarket giants Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises to operate in the proposed retail centre.
Foodstuffs had appealed to not allow any supermarkets to operate in both the large-format retail and mega-centre zones of the proposed centre, while Progressive Enterprises wants supermarkets allowed in both zones.
The council had planned to use money from the sale of Nelson Park to build an all-weather athletics track with a 1000-seat covered grandstand as part of a new regional sports ground at Percival Road.
It also planned to use $3 million from the sale to develop public open spaces around the Hastings CBD.
However, Mr Trerise said that was not enough.
“At the moment we’ve got 4ha per 1000 people (in Hastings) which is pathetic really, when you think about other places like Auckland and even Napier, which have green spaces people can enjoy during the day,” Mr Trerise said.
He said there was massive potential for Nelson Park to be used as a green space for all to enjoy but the development of a major retail centre there would spell the end of smaller shops which had been loyal to city for many years.
Nelson Park Action Group member David Renouf said he believed the council would use the referendum “yes” vote primarily to remove a statute placed on the park by William Nelson in 1921.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said a legal opinion had given the council the ability to dispose of either the original William Nelson land or later additions. The council had also spoken to the Nelson family who had approved the idea of the sale as long as the Nelson name would be part of the new regional sports park.