Pond to be fixed, if we can raise $600k

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Boats could be back sailing in Tahunanui’s Modellers Pond sooner than expected, after Nelson City councillors voted to push ahead with fixing the ponds algae problem on Thursday – but there is a catch.

The Nelson Society of Modellers needs to raise $600,000 by September to make the upgrade a reality.

The council has committed $600,000 towards the $1,190,000 project – meaning that the Modellers have six months to make up the shortfall, but president of the society, Nigel Gibbs, says they are “quietly confident” that they can raise the money in time.

A recommendation to give the society up until the end of November to raise the funding short-fall was amended at Thursday’s meeting, with councillors voting 7 – 5 to push the deadline forward to the end of September, in order to get the project underway sooner.

With a new council to be voted in this October, the project could have been held over to the next annual plan if the deadline had been left at November.

But if the funding target is met by September, the project can now start as soon as resource consent is granted.

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Algae in the Tahuna Modellers Pond last year.

Councillor Matt Lawrey, who proposed the amendment, says the pond has “given the city a headache for more than a decade”.

“We don’t want this issue dragging on into another term of council – this council should be the one that moves the city forward with this issue,” he said.

Councillor Pete Rainey echoed Matt’s sentiment, saying that council needed to “sort it out for Tahunanui and green-light it”.

Nigel Gibbs says the society is happy with how the council has consulted with them, and has no problems with the deadline being moved forward.

“It’s a big ask, but if we can’t raise the money in six months, we not going to able to do it in nine months,” he says.

“Previous investigations into whether anyone would help us were favourable, so we just need to pin people down and get them to put their money where their mouth is.”

The project would see the removal of contaminated material in the pond, installation of subsurface drainage, installation of a concrete floor to the pond and aerators to increase oxygenation.

It would also involve modifications to the centennial pump station, and installing automated controls at the Parkers Cove outlet and the pond inlet/outlet weir to coordinate emptying and filling the pond with sea water.

Two other options for the pond were also presented to council last June, which included keeping the pond “as is”, or reinstating it to an “estuarine environment”, which at an estimated cost of $690,000, is likely to be the option that council will endorse if funding deadline is not met.

Deputy mayor Paul Matheson, who is has been a vocal supporter of keeping the pond, says he is “delighted” that the project is moving forward.

“This is a project that belongs to Nelson city, its visitors and others,” he says.

“We must commend the Modellers Association for wanting to get behind it and help fundraise to ensure that it retains its interest and attraction for future generations. I think we should all be delighted that this little icon of ours remains in the city for some time.”

If people want to donate, they can contact the club through their website, http://www.nelsonmodellers.org.nz/contact/, or a Givealittle page will be set up in the coming weeks.