Hamilton City Council has finally released minutes revealing what happened in the confidential meetings to extend the inner city park Victoria on the River.
The minutes, released in yesterday's council meeting, show chief executive Richard Briggs was asked to report back to the council on the "potential purchase of 220 through to 266 (inclusive) Victoria St, including market valuation and an indication on the vendors' willingness to sell".
The minutes also show staff provided elected members with a now outdated list of property owners in the area, which identified 36 joint or individual owners.
The release of the minutes come after the Herald revealed last week Briggs, when acting on the council resolution, only approached two property owners, Leonard Gardner and Matt Stark, because he did not want to create "competitive tension" after learning they had their own plans.
The council list had Stark only owning one building in the proposed area and Gardner was not mentioned on the list at all, despite his company Fosters buying a property in August last year, which he offered to council.
Stark's companies own 260 and 266 Victoria St near Victoria on the River and Gardner's company Foster owns three, 220-228 Victoria St, near Embassy Park.
The council declined repetitive requests over several months to release the mnutes. The Herald emailed yesterday informing the chief executive it was planning to complain to the Ombudsman.
However Briggs confirmed to the Herald after the meeting that the council had breached its own rules by including the November minutes in its draft long-term plan document last year without the required resolution from council. Briggs said the council would be more "vigilant" about following its rules.
Meanwhile during yesterday's council meeting Mayor Andrew King spoke about the Audit New Zealand review saying the council was spending a lot of money on the audit report to clear Briggs of any wrongdoing when he was simply following the council's instructions over Victoria on the River.
"The only way for this to stop this haunting this council for the rest of the next 18 months is to spend a whole lot of money and resources and put this out to Audit NZ - Audit NZ of all people - to actually came back with a report which will show and shut down the foxes who are nibbling at some members and at the chief executive's heels," King said.
Deputy mayor Martin Gallagher and councillor Garry Mallett also offered their support to the chief executive and the developers in the city.
Gallagher said the council had innovative developers and hoped that the city would keep them not "smear them".