Ratepayer David Kamper is urging Napier City Council to step back and take a deep breath before diving into a multi-million-dollar aquatic centre proposal, as part of an exercise to listening to submissions on its long-term plans.
"The council is proposing to commit around that $38 to $41 million mark on a 25m x 25m pool complex but why not rethink the whole concept where if the cost was $20 million you'd get a bigger and better water space for our community, thus saving us more than $10 to $20 million," Kamper said, after making his submission to the council's two-day draft Long Term Plan (2018-2028) on Tuesday.
The 52-year-old computer software sales manager was in favour of building a complex but urged the council to revisit what it was committing to and how it intended to go about it.
Other options were out there which, he believed, it had not investigated.
"They've seen a shiny new car somewhere and said, 'I like that, I'll buy it'," said the Napier Aquahawks Swim Club media relations officer, who emphasised he had made his submission in his capacity as a ratepayer but saw dual benefits in it.
The council's plan to adopt wholesale the QEII design intended for Christchurch was myopic, he said, because the southerners had a different demography and were in the throes of rebuilding a "broken city" following the February 2011 earthquake.
"They are building it up in a different way to what Napier's proposals intend to do for our community."
Napier residents, he said, were frequenting the Onekawa complex for parties and social events, which was a reflection of the different cultural make up of the city.
Kamper said if the council championed part of the $25 million regional community sports and health centre, proposed for the HB Regional Sports Park, as the marquee aquatic area in the province then why not demolish all water facilities in Napier and direct all the funds to Hastings City to turn its proposal into an international standard facility.
Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust chairman Sir Graeme Avery had, early this year, revealed stage 2 of the proposed centre, which was still "a few years off", would encompass the building of a 50m Olympic pool and a learn-to-swim pool.
Kamper said Avery had approached the Napier council last week for a grant for that purpose.
"If Napier council build a $20 million facility here using smarter and cheaper technology than it can comfortably provide for Sir Graeme's $3 million grant so that'll be a win-win for everyone and Napier will get its water space."
According to a council statement last night, which confirmed it was going to rebuild at the proposed new site: "There was open discussion on the proposal to invest in a new Napier Aquatic Centre on a greenfields site on the corner of Tamatea and Prebensen Drive."
Several councillors had opposed it, citing a preference to return to the 50m pool development option, but the majority were in favour, with the inclusion of some caveats.
These were, namely, that some good outdoor space be built into the new complex, that a geotech report into the new site be completed and tabled, that the council agrees on the tender process and that a post-move development plan is put in place for the current pools site in Onekawa.
Cr Annette Brosnan, who lives near the proposed new site, backed the proposal and of the opportunities it would present for future generations, the vastly increased water space it affords, as well as the increase in green space likely from the redevelopment of the Onekawa site.
However, Kamper emphasised the Aquahawks club, which has more than 200 swimmers using the Onekawa pools for six days in a week, was more concerned about the water space.
Kamper said a public survey in October last year had revealed 1695 of 2010 voters had opted for building a new complex, at a greenfields site on the corner of Tamatea and Prebensen drives, but 84 per cent of them wanted a 50m water space.
"The actual water space at the proposed new complex has actually increased by 1.5 x 25m lane which gives no benefits to the pool users and doesn't quite make sense."
He said the QEII plan allowed for "zero" spectator seating, considering the Aquahawks hosted several swimming carnivals, such as the East Coast Championship, at the Onekawa pools which enticed more than 300 competitors to the city to boost its economy.
The proposed new complex incorporated a cafe and water-play area as well as a fitness and wellness centre.
"Does Napier need another gym? Aquatic should be focused on aquatics because there are multiple commercial gym operations in Napier," he said.
He said the Ivan Wilson Pool had recently undergone a $500,000 revamp and wondered what it would cost to demolish the Onekawa complex.
Kamper said the pool, which was funded extensively by public support and the late councillor Ivan Wilson, still had several decades of use left in it.
"It would be a total injustice to demolish such a fully functional pool," he lamented.
The ability for a multi-use 50m x 25m pool water space would allow a more versatile facility to enable swim club training, Learn To Swim sessions and aquarobics simultaneously. A 50m water space, with "bulkhead partitions", also allows for multi-temperature water activities.
That would mean the Aquahawks would be able to again host the HBPB summer long-distance swimming meets (50m races) which have been relocated to Gisborne because Napier didn't have the capacity to cater for them.
Kamper said pre-sprung, "dome-type" buildings, built in the United States, were ideal because they were "eco-friendly" and didn't require maintenance.
"They are much cheaper than traditional architecturally designed structures so there are other options out there."
He said the Sprung pools opened on one side, akin to roller garage doors, to capture the essence of summer to adhere to fluctuating climates.
"In summer, it's more about the water space for the community rather than the swimming club or sporting groups."
Kamper said the proposed design at the new site didn't have the flexibility to enable the members of the public to use the pools whenever they desired alongside the Learn To Swim and club activities.
The proposed Tamatea/Prebensen Dr location, he said, wasn't centrally located compared with the Onekawa complex.
"The pedestrian access would require many to cross a busy expressway to gain access to pools," he said.