$500,000 set aside for a multi-million dollar aquatic centre at Prebensen Dr could now be spent on investigating an expansion of Napier's existing Onekawa pool site.
In an agenda item for Wednesday's extraordinary meeting, council noted the funding would be used for a site investigation of Onekawa Park, a concept design of one option on Onekawa Park, and consultation with the community on the concept design.
The Onekawa Aquatic Centre site off Menin Rd sits on an old landfill.
A council spokesperson said the investigations would be completed by an external contractor and would be focused on "geotechnical factors and contamination" to understand the site conditions in greater detail.
"These investigations will be completed by an external contractor."
The council said it was too early to tell how long the research into the site would take, but said investigations and options were "confined to Prebensen/Tamatea Drive site and Onekawa".
Back in 2018, Napier mayor Bill Dalton campaigned for the closure and demolition of the Onekawa site, saying it would not be safe to build on the site.
Dalton said a person with a PhD and had worked for the US Government for 15 years on contaminated sites had " absolutely stated he would not open up that ground and he would not build a pool on the Onekawa site".
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The decision to effectively spend public money investigating whether this is true or not continues a long-lasting saga to try to expand Napier's aquatic facilities.
Kirsten Wise (now mayor) and several candidates in last year's local body elections promised, and then voted to block the more than $40m Prebensen Dr pool favoured by the previous council.
That was despite a judge's finding delivered on April 30, against those involved in a public-initiated judicial review, that the 2016-19 council had acted properly in reaching previous decisions focusing on a new development.
That was sparked when in April 2019 acting mayor Faye White used a casting vote supporting putting the project out to tender, after a 6-all split at the council table.
As well as reversing that decision, the current council also voted on June 4, by way of a resolution, to undertake investigations and design at the current Onekawa site.
It was noted that the council was conscious of the widespread community interest around progressing the previously proposed Napier Aquatic Centre development, and wished to reconsider the various options.
The council is now consulting on its draft Annual Plan 2020/21, and the issue is set to be debated at an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday .
As part of that it has been asked to approve a transfer of $500,000 to 2020/21 from the Aquatic Expansion project fund to enable further investigations at the Onekawa Site, funded from reserves.