More and more people are flocking to Tauranga, particularly in the booming new suburbs on the edge of the city.
However, questions have been raised over whether council is keeping up with the necessary amenities.
Pyes Pa resident Kevin Russo has been living on Oropi Gorge Road for 10 years, and has noticed that while more people are moving to the area, parks and sports fields aren't being developed to accommodate this growth.
“With all of the kids' sport we've got, we find we're all over town. There doesn't seem to be anything here in Pyes Pa, even though we're one of the largest growth areas,” says Kevin.
“My understanding is that farmland in the area was sold to be turned into playing fields. Papamoa has Gordon Spratt Reserve, but nothing seems to be eventuating here in Pyes Pa.”
He thinks the population in Pyes Pa warrants it now, but the council doesn't appear to be making tracks.
“It sounds like the council are very non-committal around what they're going to do. But if you look at huge amount of development going on, we need to start planning now rather than waiting five or ten years' time. There doesn't seem to be any foresight or strategic planning.”
Tauranga City Council parks and recreation manager Mark Smith says sports fields aren't currently required in the new Pyes Pa West urban area.
“Every third year we run a demand analysis on sports fields, working with the sports clubs around Tauranga. Since we purchased the land in 2003 the picture has changed and we've found that sports fields are not currently required in the area and won't be for some time,” he says.
“At the moment we're investigating how the site could be used in the future, and considering options to turn part of it into a passive reserve – its primary purpose would be for passive recreation like walking and enjoying the amenities rather than for formalised activities like sport.”
There isn't currently a timeline for development, and the land is leased for farming at present.
“We have, however, been working on a number of neighbourhood reserves in the area. We've recently developed land on Condor Drive into a park with a playground, path and trees, and we'll be looking at a reserve on Kennedy Road shortly.”
Otumoetai-Pyes Pa Ward councilors Larry Baldock and Catherine Stewart both see no pressing need for sports fields in the area either.
“During my last term on council [2010-2013] I believe the figures for development of Merrick Farm for active sports was around $18 million,” says Larry.
“I think we decided then that that was too high a cost, and it would be higher now no doubt. Back then with the impact on kiwi fruit orchards I was keen to see if there were some orchards on the market with already fairly flat land that could be purchased up Pyes Pa Rd. Nothing suitable became available, however.
He does agree that rapid growth in the area of The Lakes and Pyes Pa, provisions will have to be looked at for active reserves.
“Exactly where I am not sure at this stage.”
Catherine believes it is financially unsustainable to have large sports fields all around the city.
“At the present time council is planning to spend millions developing land in Bethlehem into sports fields. We have also been spending money to maximize the use of existing sports fields by installing lights to extend playing times.”
She says she recently read an article about how central government would like to see the public have more access to school infrastructure.
“There may be an opportunity to work more closely with schools and see if their sports fields can be utilised by community groups. It makes sense if school sports fields aren't being utilised outside of school hours.”