John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga mayor hopeful reveals civic heart poll

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Newly announced mayoral candidate for Tauranga Larry Baldock
Newly announced mayoral candidate for Tauranga Larry Baldock

Spending $18 million to renovate the newer buildings in Tauranga's downtown civic block has emerged as the most favoured option to rehouse council staff.

Larry Baldock, who today announced his candidacy for the city's mayoralty, has revealed some of the results of a private poll he commissioned of 600 Tauranga residents.

The two questions which centred on the civic heart proposals were released as part of Mr Baldock's submission on the council's controversial $71 million plan.

Once the poll had filtered out the 54 per cent of people who had little or no awareness of the council's proposed new $62 million office building, the remaining 270 people were quizzed about their preferences.

Mr Baldock said 44 per cent preferred the option to build a new library and convert the existing library and neighbouring two newer civic buildings into council offices.

Twenty-three per cent backed a new administrative building while the remaining 32 per cent were split on being unsure or not wanting either a new library or new office building.

The results of the poll, carried out by an Auckland market research company, prompted Mr Baldock to issue a warning to councillors at the final day of hearings last week.

"If councillors ignore this survey and go ahead with plans for an overpriced ivory tower instead of a new library, all I can say on behalf of all candidates in the upcoming election is, in the words of Clint Eastwood, go ahead make our day."

The poll assumed that the old council civic building dating back to the early 1960s would be demolished.

Mr Baldock said after the meeting that, although there were many great opportunities ahead of Tauranga, there were many challenges including the need to avoid major traffic congestion and the spiralling costs of land and services.

His submission to the council's civic heart project included a strong pitch for getting an internationally branded hotel on the council-owned land opposite Baycourt.

Mr Baldock said the council may have to put some skin in the game to attract a hotel operator. "Even little ol' New Plymouth has a new Novotel hotel, why not Tauranga."

He suggested the economic return from a hotel could justify the council not levying rates or not taking a return on its investment from the land for the first 10 years.

Mr Baldock said it was clear that if the council went ahead with its plan to spend $62 million on a new office building, it ran the risk of missing a great opportunity and losing a lot of public support for spending on civic amenities.

"The focus on the grand new civic admin building could end up derailing the whole thing."

He disagreed with the council staff recommendation that said because the restored value of the buildings would be less than the money spent, it was not worth fixing the buildings.

"Since the council would never be selling its buildings, is the market value really relevant. The post-demolition value would be a lot worse."

He said that because demolition of all the buildings was the foundation of public consultation, the community had not been given the opportunity to be consulted on other options. "The need for a new civic admin building had been presented as somewhat of a fait accompli."

Mr Baldock would also be standing for one of the two council seats on the Otumoetai/Pyes Pa Ward.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council was aware of the results of Mr Baldock's poll from his submission, and the council would put due consideration into his submission along with the other 550-plus submissions received.

"We will take all of that into account in our deliberations along with all the other options, including the option to renovate the existing buildings versus new ones."

Mr Crosby said if a proposal for a new hotel came to the council seeking a form of council involvement, it would be looked at, as the council had done with other historical proposals.

"That hasn't been the case to date."

New library versus new civic building - poll results


Little or no awareness of the issue: 324 people
Prefers new library: 119 people
Prefers new office building: 62 people
Wants neither buildings: 46 people
Unsure: 40 people

- Bay of Plenty Times

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