At last. Cut-through thinking that should allow a speedy end to the matter. Or, in some dark room are some darker minds plotting to obstruct this plan too? I really hope not.
The plan for siting the America's Cup bases proposed by Viaduct Harbour Holdings (VHH) ticks all the important boxes.
• It's going to be quicker and easier to build than other options, largely because it involves a much smaller extension of existing wharves.
• It will be cheaper, for the same reason.
• It will be less environmentally disruptive. It's the only option so far that genuinely restricts the wharf extensions to a minimum. And it beggars belief, now, that anyone has seriously contemplated a 70-metre extensions to Halsey Wharf, 100-metre breakwaters on the west side of Wynyard Point, and a row of 15-metre high warehouse-style buildings on Halsey and Hobson wharves that would block harbour views. None of that is needed.
• It will be less disruptive of the existing and proposed recreational uses of the precinct. The waterfront walk, from Queens Wharf westward to Wynyard, will retain its many charms. The basin formed by Wynyard Point, North Wharf and Halsey Wharf will be reinforced as the heart of the Cup Village. It will have a better atmosphere than proposed in any of the other plans.
• The fishing fleet will not have to move, or at least not all of it and not permanently. That's important – the fishing boats provide valuable life and character to the precinct.
• It fits well with the existing longer-term plans for the precint, because it allows for the development of Wynyard Point and does not lumber the city with unwanted infrastructure on Halsey Wharf.
But a question does arise. VHHL sent its proposal to Mayor Phil Goff, Minister David Parker and council CEO Stephen Town on February 16. Goff has fronted this issue as mayor and Town is the official in charge of coordinating the council's approach.
Councillors asked Goff about progress on the bases at their meeting yesterday [subs: Thursday]. Both Goff and Town responded and neither of them mentioned that the VHHL proposal even existed.
The council has been paddling in the wrong playpool on this, and it's been found out. Its development arm, Panuku, appears to have worked closely with Emirates Team New Zealand to secure the outcome ETNZ wants. That's not its job: Panuku is supposed to secure the best outcome for the city.
Goff has fronted the expensive and highly disruptive proposal that is currently in the consenting process. It was Parker, not Goff or Town, who brokered the support of Wynyard Point leaseholders to enable that land to be used, thus cutting costs and reducing the environmental impact.
And now it is the private company, VHH, that has taken Parker's Wynyard Point breakthrough and turned it into an even better plan. Where's the leadership we should be getting from the mayor on this? What has Stephen Town been doing?
If all the parties – including ETNZ – are serious about the goals they say they support, they will show willing on this, and quickly.
Is this plan exactly right? Maybe, maybe not. But it proves we can have better-quality thinking than council has shown to date.