The Soper Reserve beside the Rising Tide Bar in Newton Street is to be taken off the council’s properties for sale list.
The recommendation is contained in a report to be considered today by Tauranga City Council.
The reserve known locally as The Brewer’s Field, has been on again off again on the property sales list since 2010, when the reserve was being eyed by Bay of Plenty Badminton for a new 12 court facility.
The city council of the day approved the badminton bid for part of the land, but there was a backlash from Brewer’s Bar customers and a reappearance of the land’s original owners, that set things back.
The Soper family claim there was a buy-back option if the reserve’s use changed was never confirmed by Tauranga City Council staff. Any Mount Maunganui Borough Council record hasn’t survived.
Staff advice to councillors in 2015 is that only 1,358m2 of the 8,570m2 reserve was acquired by land exchange with FW and CZ Soper. It was not a gifted reserve, as claimed by Graeme Soper, grandson of the former owner.
Part of the Reserve is the former Aerodrome Road, which was Maori land before that. Part of the reserve was vested as a reserve contribution for Port Services Ltd.
The reserve returned to the sales list in 2015. Building on the reserve will require a public consultation process because there is no provision made for buildings under the reserves’ current management plan.
Councillors are being asked to again remove the Soper Reserve from the sales list, along with seven other properties.
They are: 95 Newton Street (Soper Reserve), 31 Maleme Street, Greerton, 174 Cheyne Road (Kanuka Reserve) and the associated accessways at Karamu Terrace and Tawhiri View, Pyes Pa. Also 37 Graham Place, Bellevue, 55 Longview Drive, Papamoa, and 28 Solomon Street, Judea.
The reason for the change of mind regarding the Soper Reserve lies within the bureaucracy. In the 2012 review it was determined the Soper Reserve wasn’t required for sporting or recreation purposes in this industrial part of Mount Maunganui.
Now the bureaucrats say the reserve forms part of the Industrial Reserves Network and provides an open space buffer between the industrial and adjacent non-industrial activities. It also offers a space for community and recreation uses, which are otherwise not compatible in residential neighbourhood reserves.
It could still change in future because the council is yet to define its future role in providing land for community buildings.
Until this work is undertaken within the Community Facilities Strategy and the Spaces and Places Plan, staff recommend the park be kept so as not to compromise future opportunities to deliver strategic outcomes.
In November 2015, Council identified 53 properties which were to be considered for potential disposal. It was forecast that there would be $27.7 million income generated from the sales of assets over 10 years.
The reshuffle has reduced expected property sales income over the next ten years by $3,005,395 to $19,756,200 (gross).