Rising costs delay water tower project

    Strengthening work for Invercargill's water tower has been pushed back. Photo: File

    IT will take at least five years and $2.7 million more than first thought to make Invercargill’s water tower safe again.

    Invercargill City councillors voted at the long-term plan deliberations to pause any upgrades, two years after it decided to upgrade the water tower to 67% of national building standards.

    Councillors have pushed back the strengthening project, which has not started, due to the cost increasing from $1.4 million to $4.1 million.

    They also wanted to prioritise other capital projects, which included the Southland Museum & Art Gallery and city centre streetscape.

    Councillors voted to adopt the draft plan and a final version would be adopted next month.

    Council’s infrastructure manager Erin Moogan said there was a potential risk delaying a decision on the tower because of its proximity to a public road and within a reserve area.

    “There is obviously some risk we are taking, continuing to delay the strengthening of that building.”

    The council confirmed on Tuesday the investment of $39.4 million of a $52.5 million project to reopen and refurbish the museum.

    This meant council could either fix and refurbish the pyramid building or continue to investigate building a new museum.

    Cr Ian Pottinger said the council had one chance to make the correct decision.

    Deputy mayor Nobby Clark said the exploring new options had merit as a new building at the Queens Park tennis courts, next to the museum, would solve part of the museum’s collection storage problem.

    However, he said the timeframe for the project was overwhelming.

    “I noticed here we are looking at the end of 2026-27 which, by my assessment, is at least six years away and possibly longer, so I can’t bind to that.”

    The museum has been closed since April 2018 due to earthquake safety concerns.

    The council also confirmed its proposed changes to rating levels.

    This included an increase for lower and higher value residential properties at 3.9% and 6.0% respectively.

    For commercial and farming properties, it would be 5.1% and 3.4%.

    After the deliberations, hearing chairman Cr Darren Ludlow said this was the most open, engaged and transparent long-term plan process he had been part of.