Concept images for a proposal for a multi-million dollar water museum in the centre of Hastings can now be revealed, as documents shed new light on the controversial, and previously secret, plan.
Hastings District Council released the Water Central document on Tuesday night as part of its agenda for an extraordinary meeting into the leak of details about it to Hawke's Bay Today.
The agenda shows fundraising for Water Central was due to start this month, several months before public consultation.
Friday's meeting will discuss the paper and make a decision on whether an investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of confidential council information will go ahead.
A council spokeswoman said given that elements of the report had been released into the public domain via the media the acting chief executive recognised the information was no longer confidential.
The report shows just how far along council was with Water Central.
It includes a detailed 10-page analysis, along with a 27-page business case, concept drawings and plans, and a spreadsheet detailing how each objective could be achieved.
The building, which would have the purpose of telling the story of water, would cost $8.6 million over two years (2020/2021) and would be funded externally by Hastings District Council, and not through ratepayers.
Funds will be required for drawdown by June 2021, with an active fundraising period will be between October 2019 and December 2020.
The site, on council land, on the corner of Southampton St East and Hastings St South, would also include a reservoir roughly up to 38m diameter and 15m tall, together with associated pumps, filtration, chlorination and UV infrastructure housed in a purpose-built plan building (of approximately 200sq m in size and up to 8m tall).
Less than 24 hours before it was made publically available, Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst took to social media saying "there is and has been no proposal anywhere within the council to spend $8 million to celebrate and/or explain our water story (tagged as a museum by media)".
Hazlehurst said the proposal was an "idea".
But the document shows officers and consultants presented an overview of the initial Water Central concept to Councillors at the May 28 workshop, for which there was general agreement to proceed and develop the concept through a business case.
The Water Central Business Case (WCBC) was drafted by a project team consisting of Council officers from Major Projects, Economic Growth and Development, Finance, Asset Management, as well as external planning and architectural consultants.
It was to "justify and test feasibility" of the Water Central concept as well as "support council decision making on whether to formally proceed with the project".
The council wanted it to
- Provide good community infrastructure that is contemporary, of quality construction, and appropriate for the CBD site
- Enhance community understanding of Council's safe drinking water objectives
- Recognise and enhance the cultural value of water
- Add to the profile, character and identity of Hastings through creating a unique facility
- Create a multi-purpose facility with space for other complementary initiatives; and a value-for-money asset.
A total of 11 ideas were refined by the project team to three "shortlist" options.
The one recommended was a mid-level development solution with education, cultural narratives, observation deck, moderate-sized function room, office for five staff, and various other elements, costing $8.6 million over two years, funded externally.
A top-level solution with education, cultural narratives, observation deck, large-sized function room, office for 50 staff, and various other elements, costing about $17 million, was rejected.
Acting chief executive, and chief financial officer, Bruce Allan said, in a talking point published in Hawke's Bay Today, that the concept of "Water Central" is "an idea – an 'out of the box' value-added addition to the very basic treatment and storage infrastructure".
He said the idea centres on showing the community the "journey of our water from the ranges to the aquifer, to our pipes and to your taps".
The overall concept is themed around the "Flight of Kahu" - the Maori legend that talks of the creation of Heretaunga and "reflects the journey of water from the mountains to the sea".
"It is anchored in the whakapapa of water and looks to develop forms such as Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku as tangible elements of the facility," the proposal states.
In the proposal, it states, that "rather than hiding the infrastructure away (as is regularly done on projects such as this), the vision explores an opportunity to place everything in a transparent box - and build around it an immersive educational facility focused on water in its entirety".
The facility will provide a source of "pure water" for the community both for the blessing taonga and the collection of chlorine free water for drinking at home.