GDC process defended

Chief executive and Mayor defend the handling of the process.

Chief executive and Mayor defend the handling of the process.

CHIEF executive Judy Campbell yesterday refuted claims that the District Council’s administration buildings were at risk of flooding.

She was speaking in the course of a review of the process that had gone into the council’s decision to rebuild the Fitzherbert Street complex rather than strengthen existing buildings.

Both she and Mayor Meng Foon, who had ordered a stocktake of all the reports and processes leading to the decision strongly defended the way it had been handled.

One issue that had been raised was that the civil defence headquarters in the new building were at risk from a flood or tsunami, said Mrs Campbell.

This building had never been flooded in all of the many floods it had faced. In a worst-case scenario water might lap at the base but it could be easily cleared.

In last year’s storm, water got into the Marina carpark because high tide combined with debris blocking the bridge.

In the case of a tsunami, when she asked the former civil defence officer about the council buildings, fire station and St John Ambulance he said: “You will have a hell of a lot more to worry about if a tsunami gets this far”.

“I cannot promise you that any new building on this site will survive a tsunami, nor will it survive a meteorite strike. You will have to take it when it comes,” she said.

While she understood the building issue was sensitive, the council had five years of work in front of them involving two councils, two different chief executives and a number of senior engineers and architects.

In response to a point made in the newspaper, the council had not been forced to release this information. A majority of the information in the papers before council was in the public domain in the first place.

Money already spent on rebuild option

The council had already spent $500,000 on a rebuild option. GHL had commenced the $850,000 fit-out of the Emerald Hotel and the BNZ building, and two-year leases had been signed for those buildings at $400,000 a year.

“What the papers show in summary is that the council went through due process and I stand by that process,” she said.

She understood there would be a letter to the editor from one of the failed tenderers to say this was an entirely normal commercial tender of a building process.

There had always been the choice between repair and rebuild. There was no doubt these buildings were earthquake-prone.

“I challenge anybody to come up with an engineer’s report that says the 1954 and 2001 are not earthquake-prone buildings.

The present buildings shook when a logging truck went past. Staff found that disconcerting.

The council could not encourage building owners to repair buildings to 100 percent compliance and not do it themselves.

“The heart of this in my opinion is a choice that was made consciously by council, not by staff but by two different councils, to rebuild and not to repair.”

Mayor Meng Foon said there were actually 48 reports on the website and the building proposal had been reviewed by international consultants Opus.

“I am very confident in the process,” he said.

“I am doing this for the best for our ratepayers for now and into the future. I trust the process, I trust my own intellect and I trust the intellects of all of the consultants, and I trust our staff,” he said.

CHIEF executive Judy Campbell yesterday refuted claims that the District Council’s administration buildings were at risk of flooding.

She was speaking in the course of a review of the process that had gone into the council’s decision to rebuild the Fitzherbert Street complex rather than strengthen existing buildings.

Both she and Mayor Meng Foon, who had ordered a stocktake of all the reports and processes leading to the decision strongly defended the way it had been handled.

One issue that had been raised was that the civil defence headquarters in the new building were at risk from a flood or tsunami, said Mrs Campbell.

This building had never been flooded in all of the many floods it had faced. In a worst-case scenario water might lap at the base but it could be easily cleared.

In last year’s storm, water got into the Marina carpark because high tide combined with debris blocking the bridge.

In the case of a tsunami, when she asked the former civil defence officer about the council buildings, fire station and St John Ambulance he said: “You will have a hell of a lot more to worry about if a tsunami gets this far”.

“I cannot promise you that any new building on this site will survive a tsunami, nor will it survive a meteorite strike. You will have to take it when it comes,” she said.

While she understood the building issue was sensitive, the council had five years of work in front of them involving two councils, two different chief executives and a number of senior engineers and architects.

In response to a point made in the newspaper, the council had not been forced to release this information. A majority of the information in the papers before council was in the public domain in the first place.

Money already spent on rebuild option

The council had already spent $500,000 on a rebuild option. GHL had commenced the $850,000 fit-out of the Emerald Hotel and the BNZ building, and two-year leases had been signed for those buildings at $400,000 a year.

“What the papers show in summary is that the council went through due process and I stand by that process,” she said.

She understood there would be a letter to the editor from one of the failed tenderers to say this was an entirely normal commercial tender of a building process.

There had always been the choice between repair and rebuild. There was no doubt these buildings were earthquake-prone.

“I challenge anybody to come up with an engineer’s report that says the 1954 and 2001 are not earthquake-prone buildings.

The present buildings shook when a logging truck went past. Staff found that disconcerting.

The council could not encourage building owners to repair buildings to 100 percent compliance and not do it themselves.

“The heart of this in my opinion is a choice that was made consciously by council, not by staff but by two different councils, to rebuild and not to repair.”

Mayor Meng Foon said there were actually 48 reports on the website and the building proposal had been reviewed by international consultants Opus.

“I am very confident in the process,” he said.

“I am doing this for the best for our ratepayers for now and into the future. I trust the process, I trust my own intellect and I trust the intellects of all of the consultants, and I trust our staff,” he said.

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