$3M BUDGET BLOWOUT
A burgeoning budget for the new Olympic Pool complex could see Gisborne District Council pick up the bill for another $3 million.
The council has also given a group of watersport advocates one month to find $1.5 million if the new build is to include a “moveable floor”, which would open the complex up to hosting national waterpolo, swimming and surf lifesaving championships.
It puts a new price tag on the indoor and outdoor pool complex of up to $50.7m, of which central government is funding $40.35m.
The budget blowout has been largely attributed to unforeseen inflation as a result of Covid-19.
On March 18, council staff said they were working to a budget of $46.05m.
But that figure is now being called the cost of “phase one” of the project, which includes the indoor aquatic centre and “modified early works”.
Phase two includes a wet deck play area, a basketball half-court, an enhanced leisure pool, new hydroslide, and landscaping.
It comes after councillors made a suite of decisions in a public excluded meeting on March 18, including to underwrite a cost of up to $3.16m for phase two, if the public agrees.
This could be funded by the council, or through additional sponsorship or grant funding.
The council had previously committed to fund $5.7m.
In the meeting, the council also approved a longer timeframe for the outdoor features, and approved a moveable floor if the Game-Changing Opportunity Group secures $1.5m by April 30.
The report for the March 18 meeting was released on Thursday, and says that at the time of writing the group had not secured funding.
“Their expectation is that the funding is to be sourced from value-engineering the pool design and structures. However, this is not realistic given the significant pressures already on the budget and the cost-cutting that it required.”
The new timeframe would give the public the chance to have more say on what they would like to see in the facility's outdoor area, a statement from the council said on Thursday.
Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said in the statement that unforeseen cost escalations necessitated the changes to the building programme.
Contributing factors include pandemic-related inflation, the need for more realistic contingency budgets, and an improved understanding of the project's requirements, the statement said.
Central Government had shown a willingness to vary the timing to enable the new indoor aquatic facility to be completed within the available budget, Ms Thatcher Swann said.
“No one could have predicted the sudden ability to apply for this Government funding and now we are here we have a responsibility to work to the budget.
“It's important to remember we had 14 days to submit our funding brief. No one could have foreseen the inflation that has now occurred in the marketplace as a result of Covid-19.”
She says the recent decisions do not affect the opening of the new indoor aquatic facility including a 50-metre pool, leisure pool, and learn to swim/hydrotherapy pool.
These are still scheduled for opening in early 2023.
In the same meeting last month, councillors voted to move the building footprint of the indoor pool.
Subject to geotechnical testing, the indoor pool will be built next door to the existing site and pool complex, on greenfield land at Churchill Park.
The report to councillors was released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
Some information was redacted for commercial reasons.
Construction on a new outside toilet and change block for the facility is under way and not affected by the proposed new location of the 50-metre pool as the two areas are next to each other.
The Game Changing Opportunity Group was approached for comment.