The Community Facilities Trust, a council-controlled organisation, will be chaired by businessman Alister Skene, lawyer Kirsten Patterson, accountant Paul Blacker, former All Black Andy Leslie, property specialist David Butler and councillor Ken Laban. All have strong local community affiliations.
“We’re anxious to get the plans off the drawing board and into reality,” says Mr Skene. “Our priority will be to get a fundraising campaign going to close the $3 million gap between the $12 million cost and the $9 million provided by the council.”
The trust’s job will also include managing and redeveloping sports and leisure facilities throughout the city in line with the council’s draft integrated facilities plan.
The plan aims to create a series of hubs clustering together courts, grounds and halls so the city gets the maximum value from its investment, avoids any duplication and provides the best-quality facilities to residents.
“We’re keen to do that in a way that benefits the whole community and makes the best use of every dollar we spend,” Mr Skene says. The council has committed $6 million over the next three years in direct funding to developing the Taita Centre, along with a $3 million loan. With resource consent approved for the project, trustees will work with the council and the community to get the development started as soon as possible.
Key features of the Taita Centre project include revamping Walter Nash Stadium, expanding the number of indoor courts from two to five, and building a community library, meeting spaces, offices, gym and café.
Mr Skene says the trust’s immediate focus will be on the Taita Centre, but it will also be looking at the operation and structure of other facilities in the city, most notably Fraser Park.