FROM the outside looking in, the Invercargill City Council (ICC) appears to be dragging its heels with regard to completing or making decisions on many key projects, some of which have been in the pipeline for several years.
The Southland Express thought it was time to put the spotlight on some of these major projects. We will continue to monitor council’s progress throughout the year.
Chinese Garden, Queens Park
The ICC was developing a Chinese garden in Queens Park in recognition of the relationship between Invercargill and its sister city Suqian, China, since 2017.
The design was scaled back in 2018 after costs escalated.
The Southland Express reported in January 2018, the garden was expected to open by the middle of that year, but so far has not been completed.
So far, landscaping, including lawn establishment, plant bed development and path construction had been largely completed, with the foundations for the moongate under way and a cauldron and Chinese tiles still to be installed.
The revised completion date was now the end of March this year.
Alternative Water Supply
The ICC was investigating establishing a second water supply system for the city in response to the contamination of Havelock North’s drinking water supply in 2016.
At present, Invercargill has a single water supply Branxholme Treatment Plant.
Development of an alternative water supply system for the city was estimated to cost $8 million.
The development of water source into a usable alternative had been planned to be undertaken in 2025 2027.
ICC water manager Alister Murray was unavailable for comment at time of print.
Arts and Creativity Invercargill
In November 2017, the ICC announced a proposal to develop a $16 million arts centre in Esk St West to help rejuvenate the inner city. The centre would incorporate a performance art space, cafe and children’s play area as well as an art gallery to showcase the region’s collections.
Construction had been proposed to begin in 2021/22.
A council spokesperson said the project had been delayed, but still remained in “the near future plans”.
Future steps and timelines for the project would be determined as part of this year’s annual plan process, the spokesperson said.
Splash Palace Aquatic Centre hydroslides
A new hydroslide attraction at Splash Palace Aquatic Centre had been expected to be operational by this month, but the need to redesign the structure’s foundations had delayed the project.
The attraction, which was estimated to cost $2.89 million, would be on the east side of the learner’s pool and incorporate three slides. It would replace the 40-year-old hydroslide on the main pool which had reached the end of its operational life.
Anderson House was closed to the public in January 2014 after it was deemed an earthquake risk.
Following public consultation, councillors approved plans in 2017 to convert the house into a multi-use facility.
In its long-term plan, council agreed to earthquake strengthen Anderson House to 67% NBS (New Building Standard) at a cost of about $1.72 million. So far work has not started.
A council spokesperson said the ICC’s parks team was working with the Anderson House Trust to consider options for its future.
The Invercargill City Council had plans to build a new $5.07 million joint tuatarium and kakapo breeding facility.
The unexpected closure of the Southland Museum & Art Gallery (SMAG) in 2018 resulted in the council deciding to defer the Living Dinosaurs Experience until 2021/22 to align with the museum’s redevelopment.Rugby Park grandstand
The council closed Rugby Southland’s offices and the Rugby Southland Supporters’ clubrooms at Rugby Park last year, citing the presence of toxic mould as the reason.
Structural problems with a section of the grandstand adjacent to the Supporters Club lounge had also been identified.
This month, an ICC spokesperson said the cost to bring the affected grandstand seating to 100% of new building standards (NBS) was estimated at $387,000.
Council was informed on Tuesday a considerable amount of remediation work was required and would therefore not be completed in time for this year’s rugby season.
Surrey Park grandstand
The council announced in October 2018 the 51-year-old grandstand was an earthquake risk and erected signs at the entrance advising users of the potential risks until a decision was made about its future.
A council spokesperson said council staff were now working with Sport Southland on the Southland Regional Spaces and Places Plan which would help identify the need for, and location of, a grandstand as part of that process. The council would consider its next steps once the plan was completed, which was expected to be in June/July this year.
No further decisions would be made until the plan had been completed.
Transitional Southland Museum & Art Gallery (SMAG) and Invercargill Public Art Gallery (IPAG) space
When Anderson House closed in January 2014 and the SMAG closed in April 2018, after both buildings were deemed earthquake risks, it left the collections without permanent homes.
Until a decision was made about establishing permanent facilities, the two groups had decided to collaborate to set up a transitional museum and art gallery in the former ANZ building on the corner of Don and Kelvin Sts.
When the plan was first announced, the space was expected to open in September last year.
Project manager Paul Horner said it had taken some time to obtain building consent.
Fit-out of the building was now under way.
The transitional gallery, estimated to cost $750,000, was expected to open midway through this year, he said.
Permanent Southland Museum & Art Gallery
SMAG was closed in April 2018 after it was deemed an earthquake risk.
At a council meeting on Tuesday, councillors were informed the museum trust board had commissioned a report outlining the options for a rebuild of the museum, which would be discussed at a workshop in March.
Regional museum storage facility
In 2017, the council announced plans to establish a dedicated centralised storage facility for the region’s art and heritage collections. The centralised storage facility would assist the many smaller art galleries in Southland struggling for funding to store and maintain their collections.
A council spokesperson said the regional storage project was being investigated by the Southland Regional Heritage Committee and had yet to be presented to the Southland councils’ for consideration. At this stage, no site had been investigated.
It was anticipated future steps and timelines for this project may be determined as part of this year’s annual plan process, the spokesperson said.
Invercargill Water Tower
The Invercargill Water Tower was closed in February 2012 after earthquake safety concerns were identified.
In April last year, the council decided to strengthen the water tower up to 67% NBS at a cost of $1.3 million.
It was anticipated the work would be completed by August this year.
A council spokesperson said the council had not yet decided whether the tower would be reopened to the public.