Stadium deadline passes

The Dunedin City Council has exceeded its self-imposed deadline to be satisfied over property purchase contracts for the Awatea Stadium site.

The deadline was 5pm yesterday, after the council group examining the contracts, Mayor Peter Chin, deputy mayor Syd Brown and chief executive Jim Harland, were given seven working days 14 days ago.

The council has set a new deadline of April 28.

Last night, Mr Chin said there were ‘‘still aspects of it that we are not entirely satisfied with''.

‘‘On reflection, the time line that we gave ourselves was probably a bit short and the intervention of Easter, even though it added a few days, was not helpful because the city came to a grinding halt for the period.''

The council voted 9-3 in favour of the new deadline. It has been criticised during the stadium debate for drawing ‘‘lines in the sand'' and then moving them.

During a brief public discussion, Cr Richard Walls said it was a ‘‘difficult situation'' but the delay was required to ‘‘protect the council and the ratepayers' interests''.

Vocal stadium supporter Cr Michael Guest said it would be ‘‘churlish'' to criticise the council for the delay. Cr Dave Cull said the trust's credibility was ‘‘in tatters'' and the council's was ‘‘not far behind in the eyes of the public''.

Stadium opponent Cr Fliss Butcher accused those selling the property of trying to ‘‘screw'' the council.

‘‘I find it really repugnant that those people who are supposed to be such caring Dunedin people should be trying to do that to the citizens of this city.''

Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said last night that the 13 contracts negotiated with property owners for the 7ha of land were ‘‘not as ideal as we would have liked''.

‘‘I guess it would only be in a utopia that you could sign up so many complicated and cross-referenced deals and walk away saying absolutely everything we wanted out of it we achieved.''
He considered the price and some conditions could have been better. One of the complicating factors was that the trust needed to ‘‘lock in'' vendors to an agreement to sell while not committing the trust to buy.

‘‘All of these contracts are conditional on the part of the trust . . . we have agreed to purchase at some time in the future, depending on whether we get all of our other conditions to line up or not.''

Those conditions included securing funding, a district plan change and a ‘‘guaranteed maximum'' price to build the stadium. Another complication was that while all the contracts had a date when the agreement would become unconditional, the dates varied.

‘‘The ideal would be for them to go unconditional the day we sign a contract for a guaranteed maximum price that meets our budget of $188 million.''

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