In which the public meeting turns into a symposium.
—– Original Message —–
From: Stop The Stadium
To: Jean Harris
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 11:10 PM
Subject: Town Hall Meeting, Sunday 29 March
Much has happened since our last mailout. The stadium still has not disappeared, and its persistence, against all rational calculation, has persuaded some people to imagine it is a “done deal”, and that further opposition is futile.
This is not true. The immediate future is uncertain, but, far from being a done deal, the push for the stadium has become increasingly frantic and desperate. Gaps in financing are constantly being plugged with short-term, dubious expedients – but further gaps keep appearing. The Carisbrook Stadium Trust, true to form, continues to pretend that everything is on track, and that the stadium may even be in place for the World Cup in 2011. Yet the three matches allocated to Dunedin do not make any such assumption.
What is happening now is in the nature of a race to get the stadium built – or at least started to be built – before the accelerating economic downturn cancels all such frivolities. There are going to be more factory closures, more jobs lost, and, with the ending of the dairy boom, less money in the farming community. All of which translates to a lower yield in local-body rates – even to sustain our existing services. The council-owned companies will be affected as well, further reducing Dunedin’s resources – yet the Council, collectively, clings to its Cargo-cult mentality: “Build It and They Will Come!”
The situation was perfectly captured in an ODT piece (5th March) by Ciaran Keogh, CEO of the Southland Regional Council. The stadium, wrote Mr Keogh, “is no different in concept than the moai (statues) of Easter Island, the temples of the Aztecs, or the Coliseums of ancient Rome”. “The monuments all got more elaborate as these societies responded to a changing environment by desperately doing more of the same, hoping that some deity would be appeased, or at least the inhabitants would be distracted until things improved”. Quite so – although it is worth remarking that, in the present case, about 80% of the inhabitants of Dunedin are not at all distracted.
As you will know by now, Stop the Stadium has withdrawn from its appeals to the Environment Court. A few malcontents have tried to make mischief of this, although the reasons are quite straightforward – the expense would have been prohibitive, while, in the opinion of our planning and legal advisors, the prospect of success was relatively low. There was also the question of costs, which, had we lost the legal argument, could have put STS out of business. In the end it came down to a judgment call, and we are confident we made the right decision. (Members may recall an earlier controversy, when STS was vociferously criticised for not spending its reserves on lawyers, planners, etc, at the initial DCC hearings. Our caution on that occasion, and our prudence concerning your donated funds, were amply confirmed by the outcome).
Caution, however, does not imply timidity, and the main purpose of this communication is to bring you up-to-date about what is happening next.
PUBLIC MEETING. TOWN HALL. SUNDAY, 29TH MARCH. 7:00pm.
This meeting, organised in the format of a symposium, and sponsored by Stop the Stadium, will break the current deadlock in the stadium debate. Chaired by Dougal Stevenson, the occasion will provide a platform for a wide range of views on the future prospects for Dunedin and Otago – and the likely impact of a stadium upon those prospects. The speakers will be: Sukhi Turner, former mayor of Dunedin; Ciaran Keogh, CEO, Environment Southland; Michael Stedman, CEO, Natural History New Zealand; Alistair Broad, Dunedin Businessman; Rob Hamlin, Otago University Marketing Department; Gerry Eckhoff, Otago Regional Councillor, and Dave Cull, Dunedin City Councillor.
The stadium debate, as has become increasingly apparent, is no longer merely about a rugby venue, or the World Cup, or the university, or who has the biggest ego. It is a debate between the past and the future – between the dwindling minority who consider it “visionary” to clutch at failed and obsolete formulas, and those who know that times have irrevocably changed, and that, in our new and uncertain environment, imagination is superior to hindsight. We are caught up, in fact, in a global debate, driven by the daily news of recession, lost jobs, lost savings. Everywhere, throughout the developed world, people are faced with the same fraught questions: what, in these unfamiliar circumstances, is anyone’s best course for survival: do we plunge ahead regardless – or do we pause, think again, and reconsider our options?
In the Town Hall, on Sunday week, these issues will be addressed as never before in Dunedin. What are our strengths as a city? What, in increasingly difficult times, are we able to truly depend upon? Is it wise to risk hundreds of millions on the eve of an economic maelstrom?
The meeting will also confront matters at a much more personal level. How will you and your family be affected? What will be the real impact upon your rates -and the amenities they should normally deliver? What is going to happen in the next five years? And, crucially, can you do anything about it?
Stop the Stadium has organised this symposium, but we do not intend to directly participate. The issue has spilled far beyond its original confines, and now commands an urgent response from every sector of our community. The participating speakers, we believe, well represent that diversity of interest and background.
Things to be done immediately. The meeting will be advertised in the press, radio, and television. But we also need a grassroots effort, and have attached a downloadable poster to this mailout. Please make copies of this and distribute them to the letterboxes in your street and neighbourhood. The more you can put out the better, and ample backup supplies can be collected from Bev Butler, at 68, Russell St. Dunedin. Also, phone your friends and acquaintances (after the last march we found that many people – who would have come – had been unaware of it). If you have any queries phone Bev at 4776861. We want to see you at the meeting.
Bev Butler. President, Stop the Stadium: http://www.stopthestadium.org.nz/
Dave Witherow, Vice President
Jean Harris, Membership Secretary
John Harris, Treasurer
Carol Sawyer, Volunteer Coordinator
Peter Attwooll, Minutes Secretary