On 2 December 2002 at a WCC Council meeting it was resolved (public excluded) to purchase the former Carter Holt site at 2-6 Henderson Valley Rd. The property was to be subdivided with 1/3 being retained by Council for a new Civic Centre.
On 24 December 2002 the Local Government Act 2002 was enacted which required Councils to fully consult under Section 78. WCC escaped that requirement by making a decision 6 days prior on 18 December 2002. There was a lot of vocal public concern. Why embark on an expensive venture when the existing site had adequate space for expansion and the existing building had been designed to expand outwards or upwards and was readily accessible to the public?
On 4 March 2003 Bob Harvey addressed a meeting of TARRA (Te Atatu Residents & Ratepayers Association) telling the audience a new Civic Centre would be built on the Carter Holt site and the public would have a chance to make submissions after April 1
So this is how democracy works?
On 6 May 2003 at another TARRA meeting 2 different people gave 4 different figures for the proposed cost of the new Civic Centre.
On 17 December 2003 a report presented to Council described “the Henderson Hub project.”
On 21 July 2004 a report revealed after allowing for the Civic Centre, Japanese Gardens and landscaping, less than ½ the original 3ha site would be available for development. The report revealed the site had been purchased for $3.8m plus holding costs.
On 17 August 2005 the quantity surveyor’s figure given for construction costs was $38,486,199
The District Plan required 357 parking spaces but this was reduced to 243 on the grounds that no persons would be adversely affected. This was later further reduced to 232. Public concern was expressed about parking but at a meeting of the Henderson Community Board on 6 July 2006 the Board were advised the CEO had put a travel plan in place and there were “proposed” parking restrictions. Part of the travel plan included staff biking to work rather than going by car. (Don’t know how staff felt about that on wet days!)
Costs of the Civic Centre rapidly escalated but three years ago when I attended a Grey Power meeting at which WCC mayoral candidates were invited to speak on 25 September 2007, I asked Bob Harvey what the total cost had been. He carried on for some time about being within budget before giving a figure of $38m. I was surprised when Assid Corban leapt to his feet to assure the audience everything had been done “within budget.” I then walked forward to the stage and presented Bob Harvey with a sheet of figures taken from WCC accounts which had totalled expenses in excess of $60m for the Civic Centre. One has to become very skilful when studying WCC accounts. For instance one would hardly expect to see the relocation of the Japanese Gardens from the old Civic Centre to the new Civic Centre which cost $2m as a charge against Parks & Reserves but there it was – Parks & Reserves on 31/3/06. Then of course, in early 2007 an extra $250,000 was required for extra concrete for the Japanese Gardens.
With so much business done behind closed doors it’s hard for the public to get a handle on how wisely their money is spent. P28 of the LTCCP in 2003 stated “the Net Capital Cost will be $25.5m to $29.5m and will give Operational Cost Savings of $1.8m per year.”
Well now the building’s going to be used by Land & Transport and to add insult to injury ratepayers are being asked to stump up with another ½ million so the Council chambers can be stripped and turned into offices.