Gisborne Olympic Pool redevelopment sees burgeoning budget

5:04 pm on 3 April 2021

A burgeoning budget for Gisborne's new Olympic Pool complex could see the district council pick up the bill for another $3 million.

The new facility will include indoor pools, two outdoor pools, a water play area, and a new hydroslide.

A burgeoning budget for Gisborne's Olympic Pool complex could see the council pick up the bill on another $3 million. Photo: LDR / Supplied

Gisborne District Council has also given a group of watersport advocates one month to find $1.5m 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.

The indoor pool facility will move to greenfield land, marked red, next to the current site of the old pool.

Councillors voted on 18 March to move the indoor pool facility to greenfield land, marked red, next to the current site of the old pool. Photo: LDR / Supplied

On 18 March 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 18 March, 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.

Gisborne's Olympic Pool complex was built in 1974.

Gisborne's Olympic Pool complex was built in 1974. Photo: The Gisborne Herald / LDR

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 30 April.

The report for the 18 March 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, 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 said 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.

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