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More twists for the pool project

Editorial

From the elation of a $40 million government gift that turned an Olympic Pool Redevelopment dream into reality, eight months on the council has revealed more cost increases (but not the full quantam) and causes for controversy.

The previous $46.055m estimated total project budget is now the budget for phase 1, and does not include a moveable floor for the 50 metre pool which a “Game-Changing Opportunity Group” of water sports leaders has pushed for. The council is giving them until the end of this month to come up with $1.5m for that. They believe the money can be found within the existing budget through design and structure changes; the council says that is “not realistic given the significant pressures already on the budget and the cost-cutting that is required”.

The $46.055m phase 1 figure is among several that are redacted in the report for a March 18 meeting that was considered in public-excluded, and released on Thursday. It was not redacted from the council staff recommendations, though.

The budget now for phase 2, the upgrade and enhancement of the outdoor pool complex, is redacted. The then in-house project manager told a community sports meeting in late 2019 it was “just shy of $5m”; presumably the $3.16m the council has decided to underwrite for phase 2 of the project is the absolute minimum it thinks could be possible.

The fact the council also approved a longer delivery time frame for the outdoor features, including the opportunity for the public to have more say on what they would like in the facility's outdoor area — which at this stage includes a wet-deck play area, a basketball half court, and enhanced leisure pool, new hydroslide and landscaping — suggests wide scope for more concept and cost inflation.

The council has also indicated it will be seeking more external funding to cover the cost of phase 2 . . . presumably the Game-Changing Opportunity Group will be talking to the same potential funders for the $1.5m made their responsibility.

And then there is the sound but oh-so late decision to relocate the 50m pool rather than continue to have it over a network-critical sewer main. The council had planned to reline the sewer main at a cost of $270,000 as part of the 2020 project cost estimates. Having now finally talked to iwi, they learned there was strong support to relocate the pool on to adjacent reserve land; and that if they didn't, they should be rerouting the sewer main at an estimated cost of $3m-plus.

Where next for this Olympic saga?