Hastings District Council has decided it will take the plunge and open the renowned Splash Planet this summer in anticipation of the region being in level 1.
But if alert levels were to remain at 2next week as indicated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday, further talks about its operation could take place.
The decision means Splash Planet could open in just over two months, on November 16.
The Strategy and Policy Commitee voted today that council chief executive Nigel Bickle plan to open for the season and manage operations for maximum opening times and patronage. The vote followed a suggestion last week that the park close over summer for renovation.
Yesterday's vote also means council officers can begin recruiting staff. Ardernindicated that the rest of New Zealand - aside from Auckland - would move to level 1 next week, but the council believed there was still uncertainty about levels changing.
If the country or region moves to level 2 or other Covid-19 restrictions, Bickle will return to the council for more guidance about Splash Planet.
"If the world turns upside down the chief [executive] can come back and give a new lie of the land. In the meantime we are powering [him] to make plans to get on with opening," deputy mayor Tania Kerr said.
Planning will allow for level 2 level 1 followed by a change to level 2. Project manager Dean Ferguson said options include separate morning and afternoon sessions, having three or four sessions of 100 people a day and splitting the park in two with people rotating in the areas but not intermingling.
At least five level 2 scenarios are still being worked out.
Councillor Alwyn Corban agreed there needed to be a "plan b running at the same time to minimise loss if the risk changes".
Cr Simon Nixon said if there was a move to level 2 or 3 after opening at level 1, Splash Planet should be closed for the remainder of the season.
Cr Ann Redstone asked if an online-booking system was an option and councillor Kevin Watkins felt that contact tracing was "critical" ifsomething went wrong.
Each option has cost risks. Four sessions a day at level 2 would bring in about $9600 but cost $12,600. In the off-season the park costs $150,000-$170,000 a month in maintenance, ongoing compliance costs and staff salary. If it were kept closed it would cost roughly $750,000 over the season.
If it is planned to open but cannot, $1 million could be lost.
"Ultimately the community needs a place to go and have some fun," Bickle said.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst: "We need to be able to mitigate and manage risks and costs but need to find ways to get the place open." Cr Damon Harvey: "It is a risk, we don't know what will unfold, but it is very much my view that it opens." Councillor Wendy Schollum initially did not support opening,saying she would not feel safe sending her children to Splash Planet at level 2. With the added recommendation that Bickle return for more guidance if restrictions changed and planning under way for level 2 scenarios she then supported it.
The topic was first raised at a council Strategy and Policy Committee meeting last Thursday. A majority voted to table the discussion until Tuesday after the Prime Minister's announcement about alert levels on Monday.