Eastern Courier : July 15th 2011
www.easterncourier.co.nz Friday, July 15, 2011 More & more people are turning to our online editions everyday! Packed with extra features like video, audio, weblinks, galleries, your news and competitions, they're the ultimate multimedia experience. REE Just click on "Latest Edition" at News that you can Read, Hear & Watch! Get more online www.manukaucourier.co.nz Sir John's on track Walker's idea: Sir John Walker on part of the Barry Curtis Park track that he hopes will be floodlit, safe and a hive of exercise in the future. Photo: FIONA GOODALL ' It's been proved in America and Europe that if you have a designated area that's safe and floodlit and somewhere where it's cool to come and meet people, they'll turn up. ' Sir John Walker, ex-Olympic athlete and Auckland councillor By MATT BOWEN OLYMPIC legend Sir John Walker is on a mission. He s spearheading a push to set up six floodlit walking and running tracks through some of Auckland s prime public spaces. The aim is to get people exercising day and night in a safe environment. Panmure Basin already has one and Barry Curtis Park s 3.5km John Walker Promenade could be next. An Auckland Domain ver- sion is on the cards as well as one for the waterfront and two on the North Shore. I ve been pushing these for years, Sir John says. I got Manukau to do it, then took it to the council about six months ago just to see what the reaction would be. They all liked it so it s gone through unanimously. The councillor says giving people space to exercise isn t enough -- they need an official track. People want to measure time, distance and they want to know how fast they re going so it s an inner compe- tition within themselves -- it s a personal goal. It s been proved in America and Europe that if you have a designated area that s safe and floodlit and somewhere where it s cool to come and meet people, they ll turn up. Sir John says 30,000 people run around the reservoir in New York each night. The continuous John Walker Promenade is already popular with walkers, cyclists and runners. It could include exercise stations and distance markers once completed. But the project might have hit a stumbling block. The Howick Local Board is proposing to reallocate funding that could affect its progress. It wants to urgently build artificial turf facilities in east Auckland to help remedy sod- den sports fields. Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation man- ager Ian Maxwell says the track is being built in stages and one quarter is complete. The Barry Curtis Park masterplan, which includes the John Walker Promenade, was adopted by the former Manukau City Council. If the existing budget for this project is used and it con- tinues to be guided by the masterplan the promenade is expected to be completed within the next eight years, he says. The total budget set aside for Barry Curtis Park is $13.5 million over the next eight years. It is estimated that $3m of this budget will be spent on the promenade. The funding review was kicked in to touch at this week s local board meeting. Members are due to discuss the issue at a workshop. But Sir John says the fact the council is backing the project is fabulous . It s an asset to each com- munity once it s done, he says. This is going to be a huge area with the amount of houses being built. When you ve got houses built on top of one another, small streets and quite confined spaces, they ve got to have an outlet -- this is it.
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