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Extra $300k trust payment queried

DENISE PIPER
Last updated 12:00 03/12/2012
Car park
DENISE PIPER

PARK-LIKE PARK: The new car park outside the new ASB Sports Arena includes grass car parks and large drains, including one at the entrance which is bridged over.

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A $300,000 extra payment to the Northland Athletics and Gymnastics Stadium Trust has been made public by a district council member.

The council gave a grant of $1.96 million to the trust this year to help build the $5.5m ASB Sports Arena at Kensington Park which opened in late October.

But councillor Merv Williams says he's noticed an extra payment of about $300,000 to the trust.

Mr Williams asked why the extra funding was given during the finance and support committee meeting last Wednesday and why councillors haven't been asked for approval.

"That's a grant to an outside organisation and I don't know where that approval has come from.

"If the grant's been made it's been done outside the authority of this chamber as far as I'm concerned and I'm really concerned that this can happen," he says.

Council chief executive officer Mark Simpson says it was a matter of approving the money or not having a completed car park. The project involved realigning Park Ave and building a new 240-space car park to service Kensington Park.

There were significant problems with the car park part of the contract and extra costs to fix soft spots in the area, Mr Simpson says.

The trustees and those managing the contract were only made aware of the problems very late, which meant the scope of the works could not be changed enough to meet the budget.

"They came to us and said ‘we're out of money' and we gave them a grilling," he says.

But Mr Simpson says the final payment to the contractor is still being negotiated, with settlement to the contractor paid over a three year period.

"Once it's finalised we [council staff] will bring it back to the council - it's still being negotiated.

"Basically we had a choice of saying ‘no, that's all the money you've got' and having an unfinished car park or going down this route," he says.

Finance and support committee chairman Warwick Syers says Mr Williams should have raised the matter with staff before the meeting, as all councillors have been instructed.

But he agrees councillors have a need for an explanation.

The ASB Sports Arena opened in October but is not fully operational due to a shortfall in funding.

The upstairs toilets have not been fitted out and part of the mezzanine viewing balcony overlooking the gymnastics floor is unfinished.

Funding is being sought by the trust to complete these areas.

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