Nelson Mail Article – 11 Dec 2013,TRACY NEAL

A popular venue for model boat enthusiasts is now back in use, but for how long remains the million-dollar question.

Members of the Radio Yacht Squadron Nelson returned to the modellers’ pond at Tahunanui on Monday for the first time in two years – when the pond last became weed-infested and unable to be used.

Radio yacht squadron secretary Ken Allcott said it was good to have the pond available again.

“We have been desperate for a non-tidal venue for some time. With the pond out of action we’ve been sailing at Monaco but we can only do that when the tide suits.”

Mr Allcott said that meant only a portion of the club’s fleet was ever able to race at any one time.

“It was only those of us who are retired who could get there during the day when the tide was right,” Mr Allcott said.

Model yachting was held regularly at the pond until about 13 years ago, when problems of sludge and weed buildup first prevented its use. The group shifted to Corder Park pond in Atawhai until that was drained, forcing a move to the Nelson Marina. Other boaties complained and the marina then expanded into the area the model boats used.

The Nelson City Council has grappled with the problem of smelly algae and thick weed at the boat pond at the Tahunanui Reserve for several years. The Nelson Society of Modellers and the Tahunanui Business Association have long held concerns, and members of the public have been complaining too. The council set aside $460,000 in its last budgeting round to upgrade the pond, but “complex issues” arose when staff began exploring how to clean it.

Councillors recently agreed that any solution beyond a plan to clean it manually and dose it with chemicals would come with a hefty price tag in the order of around $1.2 million.

The council contracted Nelmac to clean the pond manually and it has been refilled with salt water. Resource consent has not yet been granted to use chemicals to clean the pond, meaning the manual clean out was the best option to improve the pond for summer.

Mr Allcott felt the current remedy might only last for the summer.

“Yesterday we wanted to show the flag, but some of the boats still got stranded in the pond. On Saturday there were quite a few powerboats on it.” He said the yacht squadron had 25 paid up members but other modellers’ groups also used the pond.

Councillor Pete Rainey suggested at a recent council meeting that an alternative location for the modellers’ pond might have to be looked at.

The council has asked user groups to form a working committee to help with future options