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