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Indoor Sports Facility Under Way

Today's presser reminds us that work has commenced on the new building at the High School - estimated finish in mid 2017. The accompanying information is as usual extremely positive, and lauds the new facilities that it will provide for Thames. 

I have no intention of continuing to express grave doubts about the value of the facility, or its priority in the overall scheme of things (i.e. in relation o the need to rebuild the swimming pool on another site), but I am concerned that the full story regarding the funding of the facility, and the use of expressions such as:

"The project has tremendous support from the community."

I would maintain that this statement is arguable, and that no evidence for this has ever been provided.    


"Of the project budget, $850,000 is from grants, $380,000 is from pledged community fundraising and sponsorship, $440,000 from Thames High School, and the remainder ($3,160,000) from our Council."

The fact is the $380,000 in "community fund-raising" is based entirely on 'pledges' made by a limited number of prominent companies and citizens. The approval to proceed with the project was given before it became clear that the entire amount was at risk for a number of obvious reasons and may not eventuate, even while it gave those associated with the fund-raising - the old Zoom-Zone Group, the ability to claim great success.

They then returned to Council to obtain a 'guarantee' to make up any shortfall in the eventual collection process. That is not fund-raising in my books - it is securing non-recourse promises totally dependent on economic conditions pertaining at the time, and should not have been accepted as a commitment when Council approved the project. There was a great deal of confusion, and indeed obfuscation that I was in a position to observe, and noted at the time.

I simply wish to bring this to the attention of all concerned - the risk should be explained in press releases that express such unbridled joy surrounding the project. In addition, the fact that a company that was clearly in a precarious financial state at the time the contract was awarded is another risk that should be factored in, even if further steps were taken at the time by Leach/French, and Hammond to secure financial assurances.

Everyone should be aware that every ratepayer in this town will be liable for substantial further contributions to the cost of this facility should either of these two risks materialise.  





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