News that Mayor K Gurunathan thinks he has a solid majority of councillors behind him (Story 22/2) sends a worrying shudder down most Kapiti Coasters spines, says Guy Burns, Deputy Chair of the Paraparaumu Raumati Community Board.
‘The vote to proceed with the Gateway project will be held Thursday (25 February 2021) and with no popular public backing, many are fearful of the outcome,’ he says.
‘The vision for this project has been driven by an exclusive few — and unwisely championed by the Mayor.
‘No need for such a grandiose building’
There is no need for such a grandiose building and many have said the old Kiosk would have made a convenient bio-security centre at a cost of a few thousand ratepayers dollars.
‘Local Hapu oppose the planned Gateway and have not been adequately consulted with. News that the proposed building already has a name, has come as a shock for many, who believe it demonstrates just how the planning and processes of this project have been predetermined.
‘Local businesses are totally against the plan which will demolish 17 carparks and threatens competition for the hospitality sector.
‘It is worrying that the Mayor has been able to get some political support based on subjective information.
‘Visitor projections poorly quantified’
‘Visitor projections—which form the basis for economic analysis—is poorly quantified in Thursday’s report for Councillors. Two graphs regarding visitor projections are shown (one graph has incomplete information) with no methodology, analysis or justification of the figures provided.
‘But, the major weakness of the report to Councillors is on the financial side—there is no mention of cost overruns or operational expenditure.
‘The report emphatically states that the project will cost $4.46 million. I have spoken to two experienced and well qualified engineers who tell me such a project has the capacity to exceed $8 million.
‘Who pays for such a blowout?—councillors are kept in the dark about this, but the buck always stops with the ratepayer. Operational costs will add a further 1-2 percent to our rates permanently.
‘It’s interesting that Thursday’s document has two high level expensive reports written by outside consultants. Sadly there’s no such feedback from locals. But, one thing touched on by one of the consultants is ‘political risk’.
‘I imagine councillors are very aware of political risk, which expresses itself at election time, especially when unpopular think-big projects have overrun their budgets.’