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Saturday
Nov032012

Mercury Bay 'i' Site & Hannaford's Wharf 

Readers should not be surprised at the constant revision of capital works projects - particularly when it comes to Mercury Bay. There is something very wrong with the manner in which cost estimates are provided, and no responsibility appears to be taken when they turn out to be totally fallacious.

Following on my earlier post on the Mercury Bay Sports Complex, now we have the renovations of the old Fire Station for use as an 'i' Site. The problem is that the new estimates always come through after Council has inextricably committed itself. I wonder why that is so? It seems to me that there are major deficiencies in the process being followed, and denial arIsing from the lack of peer review at all stages - a costly process in itself, but at least providing Council with a reasonable basis to make a decision. In any case $250,000 for an 'i' site is just 'over the top', and again, will become a 'district' charge because of the new policy 'centralising' the operation and funding of the 'i' sites. Whitianga again scores the lion's share of the avaialble resources.

The nonsense up at Kaipara over the Mangawai Heads wastewater plant ($58m for 1,400 connections) beggars belief (see today's NZH), but it is a mirror image of what happened on our East Coast that can be summarised as totally inadequate costings, followed by over-optimistic growth rates, leading to unjustifiable increases in capacity, followed by creeping cost increases over time that reflected inadequate engineering investigation in the first place. Successive councils are then forced into a corner to provide succesive approvals. Steve Ruru is at the other end of the Kaipara debacle, but he must be wondering how on earth he has been forced into this position twice over.

As I have said previously, it is time that our processes were reviewed, and may this be done well before the estimates for the repair of Hannaford's Wharf are approved - I am deeply sceptical of the estimated cost based on the report provided by consultants - Mercury Bay Civil Design that go before Council on 7 November, and I draw the attention of members to the statement in their report that "The seabed was probed with the available length of rod at the time, and no firm bottom structure was found ". It goes on to state on the basis of this 'probe' that there is "at least 1.5m of soft marine mud below the pontoon itself". The estimate provided presumably on the basis of this Report is an all-up cost of $414,470. It that project is able to be completed for that cost, I would be very surprised. Local opinion, professional and otherwise is that it will turn out to be $1m. minimum, and very likely a lot more. How on earth they can cost without the benefit of accurate piling requirements is quite beyond me.

By coincidence, I had an 'engineering' report from the same outfit six years ago on our house-site in Thames that reflects a similar situation - in our case they claimed that their probes were 'broken', but their favourable recommendations were still accepted by Council for the purpose of siting our home. Consequent replacement of piles in order to reach bed-rock during construction cost several thousand dollars.

This is totally unsatisfactory, and makes any report involving costings of a project of this nature a nonsense. The report should remain as a 'preliminiary' review only, and made subject to peer review (and proper investigation of extent of the depth of mud before bed rock is struck) before any commitment is made to undertake repairs/upgrade of this facility. I am staggered that Council staff should have allowed this paper to go forward in this manner with such an unsatisfactory report, but it is indicative of the slack processes that have got us into trouble in the past.

By the way, this whole exercise is now to become a 'district' funded project - $140k. from the Disaster Relief Fund, and $275k. from the scheduled 'Capex Upgrade' for 2013/15. Just why Coromandel gets off so lightly is quite beyond me - another case of  the 'heads I win - tails you lose' syndrome that now permeates Council in the manner in which local projects are now held to be 'district'. I have said it before, and I will say it again - our Thames councillors have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to 'district' charging, and allowed the 'but, we are all one' philosophy to dominate to our disadvantage.   

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Having recently retired to this area and with more than a passing interest in local politics I have taken to reading Bill's blog.
Not sure where Bill gets his info from but he seems to be pretty much on the mark - so it is with real consternation I read about seemlingly pointless staff movements, how the Mayor rules the roost with apparently no idea of future direction, how money is spent from 'reserve accounts' without due process and how we always seem to have these budget overruns.
Not really knowing the past political senanigans I asked some past eelcted members and a few of what I thought to be the 'towns thinkers' --resulting in more questions than answers.
With regards to the Mercury Bay I site it appears TCDC supports 6 such sites including some in places like Coromandel, Tairua and Heaven forbid Pauanui [ once you get to Pauanui it is a dead end road- so why support a I site there]- anyway I digress - it appears that this Council is giving a decent monetary handout to each and everyone of these I sites - presumably they report back to some council officer - but then we also have The Coromandel website [the old Coromandel Tourism site] replicating the same info - crazy. In HDC area the businesses are paying a targeted rate for their I sites in Ngatea, Waihi and Paeroa - over $200 per rateable business property- so why should ratepayers at large in this district pay for what is really, in many cases no more than a business association type I site. When I asked further I found that Cr. McLean whilst chair of the local community brd, encourage the TCDC to buy the old Fire Station with the intention of pulling it down [and the adjoining hall] and building a new town civic centre- so why would he support over quarter of a million dollars being spent on a refurbishment of the old station with another $150,000 being spent by the I site to fit it out - then the I site pays the Council a paltry $14,800 plus GST a year to occupy this prime site - seems M. Bay is getting more than the lions share of the District rate - maybe as some one suggested - payback time by the Mayor for the support his town gave him at the last election????
Of course this is on top of the money being spent on the sports field [$7m+] and the town upgrade -some $14m I was lead to believe??
And to cap it all of - somebody has promised Hannafords jetty will be up and running before Christmas -for those not aware - in 7 weeks time - yeah right!! Those in the know tell me that the jetty was never intended to be a commercial jetty - certainly not designed to take the big ferries that use it - it is hardly user friendly either I believe - steep climb up to the road and not a very big parking area. It was even suggested that if a private operator wanted to operate in that area Council would have insisted on a decent sealed carpark - but I am not sure about such a claim - but it seems absurd to me that a jetty exposed to the elements warrents such money to be spent on it - and apparently it has very hard base rock underneath which will test any contractor trying to put in piles so maybe Bill is right - a $1m job - twice what is estimated- sounds like shades of Kaipara DC - give out some figure - hooked the Councillors into the project then comeback for more money on the pretext of 'we are to far down the track to not finish it- what ever cost'--
Thanks for the blog - I will be keeping a close eye on this Council - just as well there are elections looming next year!!

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEx dairy cocky

Bill - You may want to investigate the old Whitianga fire station costs abit closer.......from what I heard today the purchase cost was $800,000. and the costs to rebuild (not refit) will now be over the $500,000. mark. Its another lemon.......going up over the $1.3 mill mark.

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterinsideout

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