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$90k more for Waihinga Centre

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

A final price tag has been put on the Waihinga Centre for South Wairarapa, but not all ratepayers are happy with the bill.

The proposed Martinborough community centre and town hall project has been given a final pricing of about $90k more than the initial approval of $5.1M, made last year.

South Wairarapa District Council have now called an extraordinary meeting for Wednesday to discuss the project.

The key component of the increase is the cost of earthquake strengthening, according to SWDC chief executive Paul Crimp.

“And this is understandable following the two major events since the first estimate was made in 2013,” he said.

“There are still opportunities to reduce the actual cost further, and now that quantities of materials are known we are in a position to approach vendors with a proposal to participate further.”

He said the main contractor had indicated that any savings in materials would be reduce the overall amount paid.

Public participation in Wednesday’s meeting has been welcomed by SWDC, and the chance to speak will not be missed by Martinborough resident Trish Higginson.

Ms Higginson is a member of the South Wairarapa Ratepayers and Residents Network and was the principle petitioner to SWDC last February, asking them to halt the decision to go ahead with the project.

The petition collected 744 signatures, but failed to persuade a single councillor into dropping their support for the centre.

She now says community members are “concerned at this sudden escalation in the Waihinga Centre project cost, less than a year after the SWDC adopted a comprehensive budget that included a $700,000 contingency and mitigation against the risks of cost escalation”.

“This is indeed an extraordinary situation calling for an extraordinary meeting of the Council.”

She said an extra $90k on the town hall strengthening would be a 10 per cent escalation in cost for this element of the project – “and that seems extraordinary given all council assurance that such cost escalation risks were already factored into the budget”.

Ms Higginson has booked a “speaking spot” for 9.30am on Wednesday at the council meeting in Martinborough.

An agenda of the meeting is due to be available today on the council website and at district libraries.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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