THE Invercargill City Council (ICC) has several high-profile, costly projects in the works. The Southland Express decided to follow up their progress as the new year gets under way.
The ICC adopted a smokefree policy in early November, banning smoking and e-cigarettes in the area of Tay St to Spey St and Deveron St to Dee St, including Wachner Pl.
The council decided to erect signs to remind people of the policy, but as yet no signage has been put up.
ICC communications manager Eirwen Harris Mitchell said the signs’ design had been decided and roading manager Russell Pearson was now in the process of identifying the most suitable locations for the signs to be placed.
“We are really keen to progress [the project]. We are all committed to a smokefree CBD,” she said.
“[But] we have to follow planning rules and the roading team’s guidance.”
Representatives from stakeholder groups including Public Health South, WellSouth, the Cancer Society, Healthy Families and council staff would meet next month to discuss the roading team’s recommendations for potential sites, she said.
Queens Park Chinese Garden
The ICC is developing a Chinese garden in Queens Park in recognition of the relationship between Invercargill and its sister city in China, Suqian.
The council budgeted $600,000 towards development of the garden and construction began last year.
ICC parks manager Robin Pagan said construction work was still under way on site.
“It was a damp site so it has taken time to make sure what we are doing is permanent and won’t need to be done again in the future.”
An area had been created for a pond, and electricity and water services were now being connected, he said.
Staff were working with a Chinese company to source the structures for the garden, such as a tea house, he said.
The aim was to have the project finished by the middle of this year, Mr Pagan said.
The project’s budget had not changed, he said.
“[$600,000] is all we have [to work with].”
Invercargill Public Library upgrade
The ICC approved refurbishment plans for the ground floor of the Invercargill Public Library in January last year.
The cost was initially estimated to be $975,000.
The Southland Express reported in February last year that the project was expected to start in July, with construction expected to take about 12 weeks to complete, but construction has not started.
ICC building assets manager Paul Horner said that during the past six months work was being done to finalise the design.
“[The delay] is nothing untoward. It is just a process we have to go through.”
ICC works and services asset co-ordinator Lesley McCoy said detailed design plans had been completed, and the work had now gone out for tender.
The tender period closes on February 8, she said.
The start date for the project would be negotiated with the successful contractor, Ms McCoy said.
Proposed Arts Centre development
Plans for a new multi million-dollar arts centre on Esk St West were announced in November last year.
The arts centre concept incorporated art gallery spaces for the region’s collections, a performance artspace, cafe and a children’s play area.
The art centre proposal would go out for public consultation as part of the ICC’s long-term plan this year, with construction expected to start in 2020-21.
ICC works and services director Cameron McIntosh said the job description and terms of employment for the position of art centre director were being established ahead of the long-term plan consultation process.
“We are doing the work now so we are good to go.”
Anderson House structural upgrade and repurposing
City councillors approved plans to convert the Anderson House into a multi-use facility in July last year.
The option approved, estimated to cost about $2.2m, incorporated tearooms, function and performance spaces and permanent historic displays.
Anderson House has been closed to the public since January 2015 after it was deemed an earthquake risk.
Mr Pagan said the plans for the historic building would go out for public consultation as part of the council’s long-term plan this year.
Invercargill Ratepayer Advocacy Group spokesman Nobby Clark has his say:
Mr Clark said he supported the council’s smokefree CBD policy, although he questioned the time it was taking to implement it.
The council’s “heart and soul doesn’t seem to be into it”, he said. “Does it take three months and a committee to design a sign? No.”
However, Mr Clark did not support the council’s other costly projects.
The Chinese garden in Queens Park was “an absolute waste of money”, he said.
Invercargill did not have a large Chinese population and the garden would not attract tourists, so the money would be better spent on projects which benefited residents, such as emergency accommodation, he said.
There was no hurry to upgrade the museum as it was still fit for purpose for the next 20 to 25 years, he said, and the next generation would most likely want a museum with interactive, 3D displays rather than traditional static displays.