Portobello pontoon repairs in dispute

The Portobello pontoon is towed by Kapu to Birch St wharf in August. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
The Portobello pontoon is towed by Kapu to Birch St wharf in August. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A dispute over who pays to fix the faulty Portobello pontoon means it might not be back in time for Christmas and the busy boating season.

The Dunedin City Council previously said it hoped to have the pontoon, which was towed away in late August for repairs, back in place by the start of summer.

Holes began appearing in the pontoon after the $382,000 jetty was opened in 2012 and repeated underwater repair attempts had failed.

The delay sparked angry outbursts at this week's Otago Peninsula Community Board meeting.

Deputy chairman Lox Kellas said not having the pontoon affected efforts to fight a fire on Quarantine Island last month, with the less ideal University of Otago marine science facility used as a base instead.

Mr Kellas then moved a motion, which was passed unanimously, that work on the pontoon start immediately and ''the legal arguments be dealt with afterwards''.

Council parks manager Lisa Wheeler could not guarantee the pontoon would be back by Christmas, but said work could be completed ''within a fortnight'' once the contractual dispute had been sorted.

At the meeting, she said she could not comment on the dispute, but asked by the Otago Daily Times yesterday if it involved Amalgamated Builders she said: ''It is public record that Amalgamated Builders were the contractor that was awarded this work.''

The council would investigate the option suggested by the board to fix the pontoon before settling legal issues.

''But I can't go ahead and spend council money without a guarantee of having any return on that,'' she said.

She accepted the community would be frustrated at the delay.

''We are just as frustrated with the process and not being able to give back to the community that facility.''

She declined to reveal an estimate of how much the work would cost.

Thousands of dollars had already been spent on the pontoon, and council parks operations officer Richard Dahlenburg previously estimating transportation of the pontoon to and from Portobello, consultancy work, advice and cleaning and testing would cost the council $19,650.

This did not include the cost of fixing the pontoon.

Community board chairwoman Christine Garey said it was ''unacceptable'' the pontoon had not yet been returned to Portobello.

''A significant amount of community funding was raised for this project and it is well used by locals and visitors,'' she said.

Amalgamated Builders declined to comment.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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