Neale Park has been neglected as a sports field, says two of the region’s biggest sporting clubs, and they want to see urgent investment to get the playing surface level.
President of Nelson Rugby Club Shane Graham and president of FC Nelson George Molner both say the playing surface is not good enough and they’d like to see Nelson City Council fix the problem at the city’s largest sporting field.
George says, while Saxton Field has come on leaps and bounds since the council started investing in it, the facilities closer to the city has suffered.
“I think we do feel left out. Without a doubt Neale Park has been neglected, without a doubt.”
His club has more than 700 kids who play for it as well as five senior teams. He says that makes it the biggest sporting club in the region but it doesn’t have a clubrooms or fields fit to play on.
“There are two issues here, the pitch condition and facilities. As a big club we have nowhere to put all of our kit in the off season. At the moment we have a 40 foot container that we’ll put at Guppy Park to store all our gear.
“And the pitch has pot-holes, and as a result we’ve lost an intermediate ground and a senior ground this season.”
George says developing the park properly will mean more games will be able to be played there, creating a real “home ground”.
George says he’d also like to see planning begin for a joint clubroom facility with it and other sporting codes on Neale Park.
FC Nelson and Nelson Rugby Club are the major users of the park, but FC Nelson also plays junior games at the Botanics, the Maitai and Victory Square, while Nelson plays some of its senior rugby games at Trafalgar Park.
A joint clubrooms could be a while away though. Nelson Rugby Club has its clubrooms at Trafalgar Park and Shane says the club is fairly split on where the future of its club lies, with many members wanting to remain at Trafalgar Park. “We’ll look at anything, we’ve had a meeting with soccer and the council, but it is a decision for our membership.”
On the state of the playing surface at Neale Park he was far more definite.
“The field does move, so it needs continuous work and it hasn’t been done for whatever reason. It slopes considerably down one way and water pools in some areas. So I would agree that it does need upgrading. Also, the current facilities there are way below the standard needed for the number of people who use the ground, it’s totally inadequate.”
Shane says the north-west part of Nelson has been left behind, but a multi-use recreation facility could a massive benefit for that part of town.
FC Nelson and Nelson Rugby Club have had a meeting with mayor Rachel Reese and chairman of community services committee, and mayoral candidate, Pete Rainey.
Both told Nelson Weekly that the playing surface is of poor standard and would like to see something done. “The playing surface really concerns me,” says Rachel. “We have to have grounds that are suitable for kids to play on, so I think we need to have a really good look at what we’re providing down there.”
Pete says there’s “no question” that the playing surface needs work.