The Queenstown Lakes District Council has spent nearly
half a million dollars on external consultants for the Wanaka
Sports Facility before a sod has been turned.
Figures released to the Otago Daily Times this week by
council chief executive Adam Feeley show $484,258 has been
spent on consultant work over the past five years for the
sports complex, which is to be built at Wanaka's Three Parks
However, Mr Feeley acknowledged the actual costs would be
much higher, as the figures did not account for the ''many
hours'' of council staff time invested in the project.
The consultant costs have covered engineering, legal, design
and quantity surveying work, project management, assessment
of facility options and planning and traffic assessments.
Mr Feeley said the mounting bill came down to ''democracy'',
as some councillors and members of the public had called for
more consideration of different scope and location options
for the complex.
When he joined the council two years ago, those managing the
project had ''what they thought'' was a definitive location,
layout, functionality and facilities mix.
''That has changed with time. Certainly, there has been a
council election since then, so some councillors want to
revisit those costs, make sure that they're costs that have
been well incurred and reflect what they think the community in
''I can understand the desire to get the mix of facilities
right and ... if that involves spending some additional
money, so be it. What we'll endeavour to do is ensure that
this work hopefully produces a more cost-effective solution
for the sports facility.''
The original budget did not contemplate the amount of
reworking of the design and functionality options, nor did it
allow for the purchase of extra land - still under
negotiation with Three Parks developer Allan Dippie.
''However, as the design scope may be changed, this could
enable the additional initial costs to be incorporated within
the final budget.''
The current cost estimate for the project is $15.6 million.
Of that, $8.2 million was scheduled for next year, Mr Feeley
Wanaka councillor Calum MacLeod - who has been vocal in his
concerns about the facility's projected operating costs and
the need for a scaled-back proposal - said the amount spent
to date ''does seem a bit ludicrous''.
The process seemed to have been driven ''from a wants rather
than a needs analysis'', although debate over the facility's
location had been a ''huge sidetrack''.
He believed an early analysis of smaller sporting facilities
operating successfully in other similar-sized towns might
have produced a more cost-effective outcome.
In recent weeks, Cr MacLeod has raised the possibility of
building a sports complex in partnership with Mount Aspiring
College at the school site, rather than Three Parks.
His analysis of annual plan submissions relating to the
sports complex showed 133 supported the facility as proposed,
122 did not support the current proposal and 116 specifically
mentioned locating it next to the college.
''Even though it is not, at this stage, even suggested as an
Mr Feeley said once the council made a decision on the
facilities mix next month, the project would remain on track
for opening in 2016, ''although there could be minor slippage
in the completion date''.