Hydroslide holdup could cost millions

JACK MONTGOMERIE
Last updated 09:41 22/07/2014

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The Timaru District Council is being threatened with a $2 million bill over the sale of the former Century Pool hydroslide.

Picton property developer Terry Brown purchased the slide and pump equipment for $10,000 a year ago, and planned to rebuild it on the Picton waterfront - with the slide going into the sea.

But the deal has not gone to plan for Brown, who is now talking legal action.

He said plans to remove the pump and stairs from the old pool have been abandoned.

He would now be seeking money from the council for a new hydroslide, contractors' bills, lost earnings and damage to his reputation.

He estimated the damages could run to $2m.

Brown said the council initially wanted the slide and equipment gone quickly, but when he sent contractors to do so, the council gave numerous reasons why it could not be done.

"My manager was in contact with him [a council officer] 12 times about it," he said.

"We never got permission to take them."

Council property manager Matt Ambler said a consent was required to remove the pump and stairs from the Craigie Ave site.

It was issued four months ago.

Ambler said Brown was informed in March that the consent had been issued, but he had not acted on it.

Brown claims that consent was never received, and he contacted his lawyer to start legal proceedings two weeks ago.

"They've [the council] been served and asked to negotiate, and they're burying their heads in the sand," he said.

While Brown had initially hoped to set the slide up on the Picton foreshore, consent for that project was not forthcoming.

Instead, he has purchased 3.6 hectares of land near Picton for a water park, and is negotiating with the Marlborough District Council for three leasehold sites.

Brown had wanted to have the park operating in time for summer, but without the hydroslide those plans have been delayed.

He operates 20 waterbikes on the Picton waterfront and has also purchased 24 water-walking balls, two tuk-tuks and a shipping container of water slides for the water park.

The Century Pool hydroslide was purchased with community-raised funds in 1998.

It was put up for sale when the council built the $23.5m CBay Aquatic Centre, which opened in July 2012.

Acting council chief executive Chris English confirmed council's solicitors had "received the papers from Brown's representatives and are now engaged in dialogue with them".

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- The Timaru Herald

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