QLDC digs in for a fight over bike park
Note: Crux will be publishing a special episode of Southern Lens later this afternoon - Saving the Park.
"Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has confirmed that it has been in dialogue with the Queenstown Mountain biking club around relocating from the current Gorge road site since 2017. The lease for the present location expired in 2018 and Council identified at that stage that it required the land to support ongoing infrastructure and parking projects as part of the wider town centre redevelopment work.
QLDC General Manager Property & Infrastructure Peter Hansby confirmed that a new site at Kerry Drive Recreation Reserve has been the focus for four years and was a move long supported by both QTMBC and the Council.
“It is disappointing to hear the QTMBC is now saying they are unhappy with the relocation as QLDC has been collaborating with them on the project since 2017. Both parties worked together on finding an equivalent if not better site for the club, close to town and with features such as an available water source, tree coverage and space for off-street parking.”
A proposal from QTMBC presented to QLDC in November 2018 also cited the new site’s terrain as having “great gradients and contours” enabling the club to make use of this area and different contours to build different size jumps to suit beginner to advanced bikers.
Mr Hansby added that QLDC, has subsequently “funded investigations into the preferred site and progressed the consent on behalf of the QTMBC. Following consent being granted for the new Kerry Drive site, QLDC has completed the construction of carparking and toilet facilities (at a combined cost of approx. $400k) ready for the club to commence construction of the new jumps. QLDC more recently has offered to assist in the earthworks associated with forming the jumps and the move to the new site has been positively supported by the QTMBC over the last four years.”
QLDC has also granted the QTMBC $100k towards earthworks associated with forming the new jump park.
Responding to the suggestion that Mr Rod Drury had offered to purchase the site QLDC Mayor Jim Boult commented that he had been approached by Mr Drury.
“Mr Drury has highlighted the special character of the jump park and been supportive of retaining the Gorge Road site. He has also indicated that he would be interested in the possibility of purchasing it to gift back to Council on the condition that its current use is maintained.”
“While this is an outstanding gesture, the key issue for Council has been ensuring it has land available to support these major town centre works. We have been planning this for some years, so these last-minute changes are challenging, especially as the new Alliance programme of work is just getting underway.”
The existing Gorge Road location has been slated to be used as a lay-down area for construction and equipment plant for significant infrastructure developments (alongside the recently notified use of the Ballarat Street carpark closing from 2 August) and to provide additional all day parking to offset the short term loss of the parking in the town centre associated with its redevelopment.
Mr Hansby said that he understood the importance of the site to the club and acknowledged the gesture of Mr Drury to aid in retaining it. He confirmed that Council was continuing to look for alternatives for both the laydown and parking areas but noted that this would be considerably more expensive than using Council-owned land, if indeed possible as a number of sites already investigated have for various reasons proven unsuitable."
Watch out for our Southern Lens special later this afternoon - Saving the Park.
Main Image: The Gorge Road bike park's creator Nathan Greenwood.