Nelson Mountainbikers Accuse Council Of 'dragging Feet'

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Thu 1/Dec/16 3:14pm

Nelson is falling behind other regions with its mountainbike facilities which could be costing the city millions in lost opportunities says the city's mountainbike advocates.

The Nelson Mountainbike Club puts the blame squarely on the council for "dragging its feet" over the promised provision of cycling infrastructure.

NMTBC trail portfolio manager James Horan said top international competition organisers had shown interest in holding events in Nelson, but the lack of infrastructure to support the sport meant the events were going to other regions.

"The feedback we get is the trails are fantastic ... the club is really well organised ... but they just keep coming back saying the town isn't ready."

Earlier this year, Rotorua hosted Crankworx, a major international mountainbike competition.

Horan said it brought $10 million to the region in one week.

The club and its 1800 members spend hundreds of hours building and maintaining over 100 kilometres of trails in Nelson, and the number of people mountainbiking has grown hugely over the past few years.

Carparking was one of the greatest issues around infrastructure. Residential streets cluttered with biker's parked cars has become a point of friction between the biking community and disgruntled residents.

Horan said the challenge was "a direct result of the council not dealing with the simple problem, like giving us a place to park".

He said the club was frustrated and had been trying to work with the council for years to improve infrastructure, to no avail.

Trails in The Brook's, Codgers were destroyed by fallen trees three years ago in storms and while the club tried to clear the tracks, the council would not allow it.

"The Council blocked us from doing it and they're still blocking us from doing it", Horan said.

In the 2016/2017 Annual Plan, the council committed $248,000 for tracks with projects including $15,000 for the reinstatement of the Codgers Track, $90,000 for maintenance on existing tracks and $80,000 for a new mountainbike hub at Codgers.

NMBTC secretary Paul Jennings said it's been five months and still there's been no action.

Jennings said money budgeted for mountainbiking last financial yearwasn't spent and he was worried the same would happen again.

"The reality of it is, nothing has happened, it's just talked about."

The Nelson City Council said resource consent had been received for Codgers with work able to start by mid December.

Planning was also underway for the budgeted projects, including development of the Brook hub which was set to include toilets, parking, a washdown area, two new tracks and an upgrade to the bottom of the Dun Mountain Trail at Brook St.

The council said a number of groups needed to be consulted throughout the planning to ensure the best results were delivered, a process that could take some time.

The Nelson Tasman Cycle Trust is running a regional cycle forum in early December which will include the club, the council and the Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA).

NRDA chief executive Mike Rawson said the session would be about understanding what would be required to turn Nelson into a "world-class facility".

He said mountainbike visitors were "high value" and tended to be repeat visitors.

Rawson acknowledged there was a "serious opportunity" for growth but there needed to be some understanding around how different Nelson was compared to what other regions had to offer.
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