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Tuesday
Jun242014

Thames Indoor Sports Facility (Zoom Zone)

This Paper goes to Council tomorrow having endorsed by the Community Board today. It is 3.3 on page 195.

The Paper was prepared by new Program Manager - Simon Stephens, who is just another recent appointee filling another new position - he comes from a senior banking position.

His total ignorance of the TUGPRA Account was no hindrance to him presenting on the subject of the Sports Facility today. He has endeavoured to bring some order to the confusion surrounding the history of this project, the antecedents of which go back over many years. Despite widespread praise for his efforts today, I found the document more confusing than ever, and I am afraid it does not shed a great deal of light on just how it is to proceed, but no doubt it will become clearer in the months ahead.

Mr Stephens would to well to sit down with someone in the Castle in the meantime who knows how to present documents of this nature. He could start by cutting down on the length of his sentences, and applying a little logic and clarity of thought to the manner in which he puts them together.

Regardless, the funding remains the main bone of contention, and his blithe reliance on being able to access a cool $2.1m from the TUGPRA A/c will rankle with a great many people who have waited patiently for this fund to build up and become available for facilities and infrastructure that benefit ALL residents - not just the favoured few who play indoor sports. Mr Stephens knows nothing of this of course - he did not even understand where the money came from, let alone that it was income from prime farmland that was settled on the old Thames Council by a beneficent Government some 120 years ago as a substitute for non-existent rates.

By dint of hard work over many years, Mary Hamilton and her cohort have now managed to secure the lions share of this funding for their Zoom Zone, without the slightest indication as to how she and her troops intend to raise funds from the community. The Mayor entered the meeting at some stage and indicated that he believed the future of the actual project would depend on the success of that fund-raising - some $260,000 would be required, in order to assure continuing support from Council to proceed to the 'design-build' stage - a timely warning across the bows of the proponents. I for one will be first to congratulate them if they manage to reach their targets without substantial TCDC staff support.

At one point Strat made it clear that his continuing support for the project TODAY was dependent on agreement by all concerned that future TUGPRA income would be exclusively reserved for the Aquatic Centre set down fro the 2020/21 year onward. Strangely enough no one took him up on that and the motion slid through without any amendment of that nature. I don't think Strat made his position terribly clear, and as so often happens, his resolve faded in the face of indifference.

Suffice to say at this stage that the estimated cost of the dry Court is some $4.4m - ($2.12 from TUGPRA, $537k from an ILOS 5 year loan, $265k from community fundraising, $1.04m public grants (Lotto etc.) and $440k from the Thames High School - not secured to date!) The court is to built alongside the existing THS facility, and managed as one. 

The fund-raising is to be done as one deal with the skate-park, and Rhodes Park grandstand spread over five years totalling $445k, but the actual target is to be $750k which should give them all a great deal to think about. Actually, it is pretty modest when compared with the fund-raising efforts in other centres, but the fund-raising guru - Steve Bramley (SGL Group) thinks that it is reasonable given the socio-economic status of the town - good one Steve!

Actually Steve, and his side-kick Glenn Brebner of Boon Goldsmith - Architects, both of whom have the inside running having been associated with the project for some years take away a total of $309k which is not too bad considering that this does include the actual design.

I will complete a more thorough analysis in due course, but I think we should be assured that the controls that are proposed should ensure that another Whitinaga S/G fiasco is avoided. The milestones are solid, and I suspect that there is much water to go under the bridge before this project sees turf turned.

But saving the best for last - here is the governance structure:

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