Behind the scenes talks on the Tauranga Marine Precinct proposal are at the stage where ‘interested parties’ are prepared to pay for soil surveys to initiate the project.
Councillor Bill Faulkner this week moved that councillors ask the public for interest in funding the soil surveys before council commits $30,000-$50,000 of unbudgeted funds to the investigation.
Marine precinct concept plan.
“Instead of council approving $50,000, I’m proposing that we go out to the community to see if anybody out there’s interested,” says Bill.
“There have been some expressions of interest in funding that.”
The proposal gives interested parties three weeks to come up with a deal and 90 days to action it.
The proposal is to construct a hard standing and medium-to-large capacity travel lift on the former Baigent’s site bordered by Cross Road and Mirrielees Road.
The hard standing area will be required to take a lot of weight, and geotechnical studies have not been done on the former sawmill site.
“The best case is the private sector will pick it up and run with it,” says Bill.
“The worst case is we will be three months further behind the eight ball.”
A previous move to fund the development costs out of land sales failed. Bill’s motions passed with councillors Murray Guy and Catherine Stewart opposing it.
The council has also changed its stance on tenure, with discussion at Monday’s council meeting revealing council is now prepared to sell some of the land to move things along.
Councillor Larry Baldock says if the private sector puts up the money for the geotechnical studies, the council will then explore all options in terms of land ownership.
“No one’s going to buy it and then put in millions for a travel lift. We are trying to find a process where by selling some of the land we will be able to put in the infrastructure that we need. We are really trying to get this thing over the line with the least cost to us,” says Larry.
Mayor Stuart Crosby says he prefers the sale process to go through the stage of calling for expressions of interest before going on the open market, rather than just targeting one group.
“Council’s role in this is about facilitation, about creating and hopefully resurrecting an industry this city has been renowned for.”
The Marine Precinct project is about creating opportunities in an industry that relates to Tauranga’s environment, says Stuart.
He says the council has never intended to run the site, but that it is appropriate for the council as leaders to use a piece of land that creates an environment for the private sector to take over and run with.
“This is quite important and it’s been dragging on a bit,” says Bill.
Before the second harbour bridge was built the marine industry had a reasonably good facility with the 600 tonne slipway, which was dismantled and sold to make way for the bridge.
“And not unreasonably they might expect it to be replaced, and that was seven years ago,’’ says Bill.
“We do not want a developer to move in and flick it off at a huge capital gain. We need to protect the public interest. The CEO and others have received a number of inquiries.
“This is designed to bring them out of the woodwork, and we can weigh up to see what the best deal is for marine industry and this council, and that’s what this will do.”