Interesting that as soon as submissions to council were finished, there are now much more detailed plans and costings from TCC and Willis Bond for the proposed Tauranga Civic Precinct project in tomorrow’s council meeting report (also see agenda).
Despite a majority of submitters not wanting Option 1, TCC recommends the commissioners approve Option 1, partly on the grounds of “silent majority support”. Seems the council is now doing away with surveys and referenda and just deciding what the silent majority think without any evidence.
On the other hand, no mention is made of TCC’s misleading consultation, which stated that Option 2 was far more expensive than it really is – something Sustainable BOP had to uncover by asking helpful TCC staff.
Furthermore, after our first glance at the Willis Bond document, we note:
- ‘Greening’ the development will cost $21 million extra.
- There is confirmation of cost overruns of $3.6m from November to April.
- It appears Cr Robson and others were right in 2018 about a $20 million museum being suitable, as the museum construction cost is still only $23.5 million, but adding 24% projected cost escalation from now plus other expenses, it will total an estimated $42.6 million.
- It’s the 3900 sq m exhibition centre that is most costly – projected $61.6 million all up.
- “Each square metre reduction in GFA would drive c.$10,000 in project cost savings.” i.e. 100 square metres less floor area would save $1 million. One wag suggested the commissioners could cut out the whole 13,000 sq m floor area for the project. However that would only save $130 million – meaning TCC would still have to fork out $174 million!
Just to be clear, we like libraries and museums. Our concern is that the more we read, the more concerning it is that Tauranga residents are being asked to bankroll a huge investment like this without any business case. We’d still like to know:
- Why do we need such large buildings?
- Why we need an expensive exhibition centre, as well the proposed performing arts and conference centre? and
- Why is TCC proceeding with such undue haste when the Minister of Finance is saying it’s not appropriate for government to fast-track infrastructure investments, and when Willis Bond’s report states “The construction industry is currently seeing significant escalation, which is expected to
continue in the near term.”?
We say to the Commissioners:
- Take a breath
- Show us all the business case that answers those questions
- Grab a cuppa and sit down with people in the community (meaning people who support the proposal and those that currently don’t) and discuss the pros and cons of the plan
- Tell us why this is being fast-tracked ahead of transport projects and important low carbon projects
- Then make a considered and nuanced decision that results in a truly sustainable outcome for our whole city – not just the CBD, and not a bloated, costly (and frankly somewhat ugly) millstone.