Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club are 'generally supportive' of council moves to free up land at Sulphur Point's Marine Park for the University of Waikato's proposed marine research centre, says club Commodore Andy Knowles, but still have some specific issues they would like to see addressed.
As SunLive reported yesterday, Tauranga City Council is asking for public feedback on its plan to revoke recreation reserve status from part of Marine Park, the large grassed area on the western side of Sulphur Point, to provide a site for the university facility.
The proposed location became the council's preferred option after its initial plan to offer the university space adjacent to the Tauranga Game Fishing Club premises in the marina precinct at the north of Sulphur Point received solid opposition from recreational boaties.
“Generally we support it, it's the best location,” says Andy. “It's the only location left and probably the best choice.”
The club's general committee will decide its official response to the council's call for feedback when it meets next week, he says.
“We'll consider it more carefully then but generally we support the Waikato University – the marine department only – having some premises that are close and accessable to water.”
They are much happier with the current proposal than the original plan, he says.
“We seriously opposed it at its previous location which was really the only space left for assisting recreational boating, which will have greater need for space close to the water and close to the yacht club and fishing club.
“We're getting increasing demand for boat storage space for people who want to go sailing, and all our sheds are full.
“The Sailability group which is associated with the yacht club also has serious demand.
“That's why we were so adamantly opposed to the use of the northern Sulphur Point area for the university or any use other than recreational boating.”
While the yacht club supports the council's latest move in relation to the siting of the university marine research centre, they would like to see more thought go into future use of the whole Marine Park area, Andy says.
“We would much prefer to see a comprehensive proposal that included the possible expansion of the marina, and the possible movement of some of the other bodies in the area.”
In particular Andy cites the building shared by the Tauranga Moana Outrigger Canoe Club and the Bay of Plenty Dragon Boat Club, which he says is not ideal.
“They currently have to carry their boats a long way to the water.
“It's not the best facility.”
The added traffic volumes from the number of students and staff the marine research base will bring to the Mirrielees Rd/Cross Rd chokepoint, which can already get seriously congested at peak times, is another issue that will need to be addressed, Andy says.
“Adding more students and people to it means that you do need to look carefully at how you get rid of that traffic jam.”
Those issues aside Andy says the club welcomes the benefits the University of Waikato's facility will bring to the boaties he represents.
“Generally we support anything that will assist recreational boating, and the university's project at least in the long term will help us as a group.
“On water quality and other issues, certainly it should be to the benefit of the people who use the harbour for recreation purposes. Looking at the bigger picture their research activities should produce results which will help.”