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Bay Venues looks at city’s future recreational needs

A $30 million multi-purpose recreation centre in the CBD, improvements to Greerton and Baywave pools, and extension of ASB Baypark are being suggested by Bay Venues.

Bay Venues, a council-controlled organisation and key provider of sport and recreation facilities, presented the ideas to Tauranga City Council’s draft Long-Term Plan yesterday.
Speaking after the presentation yesterday, Bay Venues Limited chairman Peter Farmer said Tauranga’s growth is not expected to stop anytime soon, and Bay Venues has released suggestions to deal with the city’s growing recreational needs.

 He emphasised that his organisation’s concepts were conversation starters only, and is pleased Council voted to commit $150,000 next financial year for a detailed feasibility study into Bay Venue’s multi-purpose recreation centre idea.  Mr Farmer says if the centre goes ahead, Bay Venues will be looking at all funding options, including seeking funding in the form of a public/private partnership.

The proposed $30m 'leisure hub' is a multi-purpose recreation centre that could potentially include indoor pools, courts and a fitness centre as well as a community centre, hot pools and spa complex. Bay Venues believes the demand for such a CBD-based centre will be driven by actual and projected population growth, an increase in facility users, city centre intensification and Tauranga’s new tertiary campus (that will not include a recreation centre).

Bay Venues chief executive Gary Dawson says it is Bay Venues responsibility to look at the provision of recreation services now and for the future and suggest possible solutions.
He says the feasibility study will investigate whether the centre could replace Tauranga’s Memorial and Otumoetai pools, which date back to 1955 and 1968 respectively.  Before going to Council, Bay Venues completed a needs assessment for a city centre facility. It revealed these ageing facilities will require significant investment and increased operating expenses to continue to provide the current level of service. The study will also look at potential locations, of which Memorial Park is one.

“The only way the city can progress is to have thought leadership around what such proposals for future development could look like. We feel comfortable we have done our due diligence in bringing this concept to the table.

“We are dealing with this one step at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. It is important first of all that, as a city, we identify whether there is a need for change and if so, only then consider what that change could look like,” Mr Dawson says.

The feasibility study will allow for a thorough community engagement process to occur, particularly with existing pool users.

 “We want people to start looking at what the city could look like and think about recreation for the future. It may be that that feedback informs us of needs we are not aware of,” he says.

Councillors also agreed to Bay Venues request to set aside provisional funding of $30 million, dependant on the study outcome, to design and build the leisure hub in four or five years’ time. This provisional future funding would need to be confirmed in the 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan. 

Other projects Bay Venues brought to the Council table yesterday included a new exhibition centre at Baypark, and rejuvenation of Baywave and the Greerton pools. All met with Council approval for inclusion in the draft Long-Term Plan 2018-2028.

At Greerton Aquatic and Leisure Centre, which was built 45 years ago, Bay Venues is proposing the construction of a new entranceway, reception area and offices, plus new changing rooms and cubicles.

At Baywave, the intention is to provide more fun activities and services for recreational swimmers. These include changes to the aqua play area, adding more spectator seating and extending the outside area, adding new family/private changing rooms and reconfiguring lane space in the leisure pool to free up more space for recreational users.
Bay Venues other significant proposal is the development of a new multi-purpose exhibition space at ASB Baypark for events such as exhibitions and entertainment. This would release pressure placed on the demand for the spaces in ASB Arena which has arisen due to Tauranga’s rapid growth, Mr Dawson says.


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