Costings being sought for Settlers' tower

Costings are being sought from contractors to add a controversial new viewing tower to the $35 million Otago Settlers Museum redevelopment project, but the tower seems unlikely to proceed.

Documents obtained by the Otago Daily Times, and dated last month, show a building firm has been seeking costings from subcontractors for the construction of stage 4 of the redevelopment, which involves the development of a new northern entrance and redeveloped atrium, foyer, and shop area.

The documents also inquire about a second, combined price for stages 4 and 5, the latter involving the viewing tower, with an earliest possible start date for stage 5. A third price also sought would indicate the additional cost to add stage 5 to the stage 4 contract, at the latest possible date.

The documents state stage 5 is "to be completed by December 1, 2012" and notes that "the client [the Dunedin City Council] may not wish to proceed with stage 5".

Other documents list items for pricing, including for structural steel, carpentry, electrical services and painting, including of the lift car ceiling, as part of the tower concept.

The Dunedin City Council has previously approved the first four stages of the project, but has not approved the earlier-proposed lift-equipped viewing tower, which has been criticised as costly and unnecessary.

Approached about the tender documents, Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis, who is strongly critical of the proposed $8.6 million cost of stage 4, and also of the tower concept, said he was convinced the tower would not go ahead.

He believed the tower proposal was being used as a stalking horse, an unacceptably costly item to deflect the attention of fellow city councillors from the high costs of the museum's fourth stage.

He said in an interview yesterday the tower proposal was not being seriously promoted and understood it had been "resoundingly" opposed by city councillors before the past council elections.

Nevertheless it was "totally unsatisfactory" that the tower proposal had not already been ruled out, he said.

Asked whether the tower proposal was being actively pursued, city council general manager community life Graeme Hall said he had, in fact, been concentrating solely on the first four stages of the redevelopment.

Any proposed tower had not gained council backing and clearly could not proceed without approval, Mr Hall said.

Council managers have also been asked to help find multimillion-dollar savings.

The Otago Settlers Museum Board yesterday excluded the public to discuss an item involving fundraising efforts for the redevelopment project.


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