Play­ground spend like ‘monopoly’

‘‘To see [the play­ground] come in at four times that [bud­geted] amount, $1.6m, some­one got some­thing hor­ri­bly wrong.’’

Waikato Times - - News - Libby Wil­son libby.wil­son@stuff.co.nz

Plans for a Tama­here play­ground blew the bud­get, with a $1.6m cost that was around four times the orig­i­nal plan.

Belt tight­en­ing could pull the price back to $865,000, Waikato District coun­cil­lors heard – but it was still well over the ini­tial quote of $406,000.

The fig­ures looked ‘‘like Monopoly money’’ to one district coun­cil­lor, but elected mem­bers were told it was un­der con­trol.

The play­ground is part of a $3.9m plan to de­velop the Tama­here Re­cre­ation Re­serve, which is along­side the school and com­mu­nity hall on the out­skirts of Hamil­ton.

Other fea­tures in­clude a pi­azza area, a bas­ket­ball court, skate park, and car park – but most work had been on hold while coun­cil waited for con­firmed pric­ing.

‘‘To see [the play­ground] come in at four times that [bud­geted] amount, $1.6m, some­one got some­thing hor­ri­bly wrong,’’ Cr Noel Smith said at the lat­est in­fras­truc­ture com­mit­tee meet­ing.

Even with the bud­get blowout cut in half, the project was short about $400,000.

‘‘This is like Monopoly money,’’ Smith said.

‘‘It’s wor­ri­some.’’

His con­cerns were shared by gen­eral man­ager of ser­vice de­liv­ery Ian Cath­cart.

‘‘[I’m] def­i­nitely putting the pres­sure on to say, well, that’s the bud­get, what can you do in­side the bud­get?’’ he told the meet­ing.

Ideas coun­cil will look at in­clude stag­ing the devel­op­ment, and seek­ing grants, do­na­tions, or spon­sor­ship.

Coun­cil­lors voted to add $250,000 to the bud­get dur­ing the pub­lic ex­cluded ses­sion of an Oc­to­ber meet­ing.

The money was set aside in their longterm plan but will be spent ear­lier than ex­pected ‘‘to en­able full com­ple­tion of the con­struc­tion of the Tama­here Re­cre­ation Re­serve’’, pub­lic min­utes say.

The ini­tial $406,000 play­ground quote was for a basic ver­sion, a state­ment from deputy gen­eral man­ager of ser­vice de­liv­ery Roger Mac­Cul­loch said.

How­ever, the Tama­here com­mu­nity wanted some­thing big­ger and bet­ter and was will­ing to pay for it.

A tar­geted rate of about $38 a year was in­tro­duced to pro­vide an ex­tra $500,000, Mac­Cul­loch said.

In a bid to make the play­ground fit the bud­get, coun­cil was look­ing at whether any parts could be left un­til later, or funded through other means.

Tama­here peo­ple were con­sulted on the play­ground de­sign, so some coun­cil­lors were wor­ried cost cut­ting could lead to dis­ap­point­ment.

The re­serve devel­op­ment has many mov­ing parts, Cr Ak­sel Bech said, so it wasn’t as sim­ple as get­ting a quote and think­ing ‘‘whoops, it’s a bit higher than that’’.

‘‘I’m pretty confident that ... we will be able to work within money that’s al­ready in the long-term plan and what the com­mu­nity’s raising – per­haps with a some ad­di­tional de­lay on nice-to-haves, or spon­sor­ship from other sources out­side coun­cil.’’

There had been a sav­ing of about $40,000 through al­ter­ing the fit­ness trail sur­face, Bech said, and light­ing the play­ground for se­cu­rity only – not night­time use – would save $50,000.

The play­ground part of the works was al­ways ex­pected to be over bud­get, a Waikato District Coun­cil re­port said, but they’d been hop­ing to cover that with sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings on the skate park.

In­stead, the sav­ings were mi­nor: $5200.

The bright spot on the cost front is a $110,000 sav­ing on paved ar­eas in the pi­azza and path­ways.

Works on the re­serve are sched­uled to be fin­ished in May 2019.

The Tama­here Re­cre­ation Re­serve is on the out­skirts of Hamil­ton, along­side the vil­lage’s school and com­mu­nity hall. Works are sched­uled to be fin­ished in May 2019.CHRISTEL YARD­LEY/STUFF

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