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Gisborne District Council takes a closer look at its sports grounds

Gisborne District Council takes a closer look at its sports grounds
May 4, 2015

Gisborne District Council has invited the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute to assist with an assessment of all sports playing fields in the city.

Comments from the community in recent editions of The Gisborne Herald have drawn attention to the state of our sports grounds.

Explaining the move, Gisborne District Council Community and Recreation Manager Andrew White states “(we) are also not happy with the early season state of some of our sports fields this year.”

“Climate is expected to increasingly impact on the ability to deliver consistent natural surfaces year on year.

“Our sports grounds are not irrigated over summer, the ground is still quite hard and cracking won’t disappear until soil moisture improves.

“Our maintenance contractor has followed the same renovation programme which provided good success last season, but unfortunately, with the dryer autumn conditions this year, we have seen a delay in grass establishment for winter. "

In response to the specific concerns raised by letter writers, White says “while we expect traditionally problematic surfaces such as ANZAC and Nelson Parks to be a lot more playable as a result of drainage work over the previous summer, we have been caught short with our early season preparations on some grounds, including Childers Road Reserve.

He adds “we are not unique in facing these challenges and can learn from other centres that have developed innovative ways of responding to such issues.”

Gisborne district is in the top tier of value-for-money parks agencies in New Zealand Local Government with more than twice the national average of public open space land per head of population - almost 35 hectares per 1,000 residents.

In contrast, the Council’s parks management costs are the second lowest of surveyed councils at $370 per hectare – the national average is $1,509 per hectare.

As White explains “every three years, when Council reviews our ten year plan we comprehensively review the levels of service we provide and any changes to operational costs.”

During early consultation on the Long Term Plan, Council received comments about the state of the turf at the Oval, and more recently a submission for reinstating fields at Te Puia.

No submissions to upgrade playing surfaces or increase irrigation of sports grounds were received.

White concludes “if we are going to do better we need to determine what improvements should be made and the cost within the overall plan for the next few years.

“Unfortunately there are no quick fixes. Over the coming weeks, as the weather conditions become more suited to winter grass species, our maintenance contractor will be committing increased staff and equipment to get our fields into the best condition possible.

“With advice from the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute, we are looking to improve our development and maintenance programmes so we can minimise the impact of seasonal variations on the quality of our sports surfaces.

“We ask people to be patient with conditions this winter season as we look for solutions.”

For more information go to

Click here to visit the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute's website.



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