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Open Letter to the Mackay Park Sunset Committee Members

Dear Sunset Committee Members,

It seems some in council are grasping at straws to find additional funds for the Mackay Park development  and in view of the community's objections to the proposed fate of the Community Centre, it is to be hoped councillors need no more convincing that to pursue any more sales of assets to help finance the Mackay Park project will result in today's equivalent of riots on the streets.

It seems that the GM and Mayor are still expecting councillors to approve the go-ahead of the Mackay Park development at next Tuesday's meeting which means, of course, that they will have to be convinced beyond doubt that the project offers what the community wants and will be affordable to build, own and operate for its 50-60 year life!

Even more importantly at this time, because of the magnitude of the impacts of the Mackay Park development for now and decades ahead, Councillors should sensibly defer any decision on the Mackay Park tenders until holding an extraordinary meeting. That extraordinary meeting would be held after releasing all the latest information including up-dated business cases, tender prices, etc., allowing for public information and for feedback. There is no longer the stated need for this information to remain "commercial in confidence" - the tenders are in now.

Keep in mind that on top of the bowling club purchase, loans, consultancies' fees, staff time, etc. - at least some $7 million - so far expended, the total tender price is expected be around $70 million after contingencies. That means the council will still have a $15 million gap to fill from the $55 million in grants and an earlier loan just to pay for the build and that gap has to be filled from reserves, additional loans, etc. as mentioned in the agenda for the 28 July meeting.

There will no doubt be further consultancy costs before completion and then there are the continuing operational, financial and ownership costs for coverage by the next several generations of residents and ratepayers.

Remember in the progressive stages of the development, facilities and amenities have been reduced or cut out altogether from the initial scope of the project because we were told they were unaffordable to build and to operate ................ and that was when the estimated cost was around $48 million!

We in the community, you too, deserve to see the latest numbers before councillors vote for a $22 million more expensive building, which presents a much less significant and a less attractive “Gateway Development”, with fewer amenities, than first envisaged in 2016.

There won’t be any more chances for a sensible review if the Councillors fire the starting gun on Tuesday so, please, if you agree, tell them to hold off and engage the community with the full story before proceeding.

Jeff de Jager

Above: Are Councillors up to running speed on the finances of this project? In a response to questions raised by The Beagle around the future funding of the project in terms of maintenance and operational costs the Mayor writes(july 24th, 2020) : In terms of the ongoing operational costs councillors have been regularly briefed on the

whole of life costs associated with the operations of the BBRAALC; this included a detailed

analysis of various business models. Ultimately Council endorsed the Fee for Service option

at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 10 March 2020.

This decision was based on an updated analysis of revenue and expenditure. The detail

included likely replacement costs and timeframes. Councillors are fully aware of the

expected construction and operational costs for the new building. These figures are based

on the design that was approved by the Southern Regional Planning Panel.

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