A half a million dollar investigation has concluded Onekawa Park could be a used as a site for a redeveloped Napier Aquatic Centre.
The report found that redeveloping the old landfill land that is the current home of the existing Napier Aquatic Centre could be hazardous and complicated, but not impossible.
Geotechnical and contamination investigations were commissioned by the Napier City Council last year after a decision to rethink the controversial $41 million Prebensen Dr aquatic facility proposal.
Five sites across the park were investigated according to the report by consultancy firm Tonkin + Taylor.
T + T found the significant presence of uncontrolled landfill refuse across most of the sites tested, as well as existing underground infrastructure that would require removal or bridging if a build went ahead.
Asbestos contamination was detected at one of the four sites tested, in the south-west corner of the park.
Lead, zinc and copper were also detected in notable concentrations across the sites, although T + T considered the future risk to human health with any proposed redevelopment as "acceptably low".
A Napier City Council spokeswoman said these results confirmed the conditions at the newly proposed sites were similar to those at other parts of the park tested in 1997 and 2011.
The council said information on risks, cost and timeframe for a build on one or two of the tested locations will now be presented to councillors in February 2022.
After that, the options for building an aquatic centre in Onekawa Park, alongside an option to build at Prebensen Dr, will likely go back to public consultation soon after.
The council under mayor Bill Dalton put up the $41 million aquatic centre on Prebensen Dr and a $20 million expansion to the Onekawa facility as options for public consultation in April 2018.
Dalton said in 2018 that someone who had a PhD and had investigated contaminated sites in the US for 15 years advised him that "he would not open up that ground and he would not build a pool on the Onekawa site".
Out of 620 submissions received through public consultation, there was a near even split between the two options.
In a close race mirroring the public submissions, councillors voted 7-6 in favour of putting the Prebensen Dr project to tender in April 2019, with acting mayor Faye White using a casting vote.
Midway through 2019, community group Friends of the Onekawa Aquatic Centre challenged the Napier City council decision in the High Court, saying the council failed to properly consult with the community on the decision to relocate.
In May 2020, the High Court ruled in favour of the council, however the council which was by then run under Mayor Kirsten Wise opted to halt the project anyway and undergo further investigation.