The redesign and refurbishing of Tauranga CBD's Aspen Reserve survived a last minute attempt to drastically prune it back, when it came before the city council for approval.
Sprucing up the reserve was estimated to cost $800,000 - an amount questioned by several city councillors who succeeded in reducing it to $500,000.
Rick Curach says they could build a couple of houses for the money. During the meeting he moved it be a design and build project with a $400,000 budget.
Bill Grainger supported Rick, saying he couldn't see close to $900,000 being spent on it.
Steve Morris says the council has been “spending like sailors” and it needs to get a grip.
Max Mason asked what amenities would be lost if they reduced the budget.
Terry Molloy asked if the pricing was tested against any project of similar size.
Staff say the design was driven by feedback from the open days held early last year which was incorporated into the design.
Similar sizes across the country the council could spend 500 to $5m
Larry Baldock says they're not building houses, they are building a Central Business District. And improving its amenity. If he had any confidence that the project's critics had any landscape design experience he might listen.
“But there's no way I support slashing of this budget when you just pick a figure out of the air,” says Larry.
Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout agreed with Larry and said he would go along with the experts who had put the plan together.
“It's about quality,” says Max. “As an internationally competitive city, and the heart of the city is going to be about creating really good spaces. It's about creating good urban spaces.
“We are trying to attract people to the city centre, it is about place making, and we as a council don't talk about place making enough. I think it should be part of what we talk about all the time, and fundamentally we don't understand what place making means. We need to understand and it needs to be part of our thinking, a bit like sustainability.”
Costs so far: concept and design $32,043. Estimated detailed design costs $118,000. Estimated construction costs for the Aspen Reserve upgrade were $800,000. Councillors voted to reduce the amount to $500,000.
The Aspen Reserve upgrade is funded by the existing streetscape investment fund.
Councillors voted to proceed to detailed design at a December council meeting.
Key themes in the feedback received from the open days held last February include keeping it green, a relaxing environment, can be used for events, provide more seating and shade and integrate arts and culture.
Isthmus have prepared a concept design for a green open space that allows for passive recreation including casual seating and shade but also caters for small intimate events that can be held during both day or night.
The concept design also recognises the cultural and historical significance of the site by incorporating feedback from Mana Whenua into and retaining historical features within the design i.e. the case of the inclusion of the historic stone wall on the Willow Street edge.