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Locals lap up pool contracts

Thursday, 6th January, 2011

By Andrew Robertson

Local businesses have so far won more than $1 million in contracts as part of the aquatic centre upgrade which starts later this month.

And more of the city’s business operators will be in the running to benefit from the $5.5m redevelopment, with more than $4m in items still to be tendered or purchased.

Work at the aquatic centre - which will include refurbishing and enclosing the 25m pool and replacing virtually every building on the site - is scheduled to begin on January 17.

City Council expects the project to be finished by November 1, in time for the start of the following summer season.

So far it has awarded just over $1.5m in contracts, with local bidders winning tenders for electrical and hydraulic works, steel fabrication and plasterwork.

But tenders for a number of other big-ticket items - including a new filtration system - were last month rejected by Council after they were considered too expensive by a tender panel.

A report to Council said savings of some $650,000 would need to be found, either through change in scope or renegotiation of the tendered prices, to keep the project within budget.

Council’s Paul DeLisio said yesterday the council was now negotiating with the contractors whose tenders were rejected in an effort to find the savings required.

“What we found is some of the prices were uncompetitive,” he told the BDT.

“We know what we want to provide to the community, it’s just now talking nuts and bolts with suppliers to do that in the most efficient way.”

Mr DeLisio said Council needed to ensure it kept costs under control and got value for money from suppliers, though admitted it was “a major challenge”.

“We’re confident we will be able to reduce that cost and get it within the existing budget.” 

The latest work comes after Council secured almost $5m in federal funding for stages 2 and 3 of the redevelopment which began with construction of the 50m pool and water slide in 2008.

Apart from refurbishing and enclosing the 25m pool, the toddler and program pools will be upgraded along with the associated water treatment plant and equipment.

New buildings will also be erected to house the cafe/kiosk, change houses and amenities, manager’s office and a multi-function room.

An indoor hydrotherapy pool will also be built. Council has chosen architectural firm Facility Design Group to project manage the work. 

Council has been criticised for scheduling the building works during the middle of summer but risks losing its funding if it does not at least start the project by the end of the current financial year.

While it will force the closure of the three smaller pools, the 50m pool will remain open to the public throughout summer and possibly through winter, according to Mr DeLisio, Council’s Group Manager Infrastructure.

He said the 50m pool’s heating system was not designed to warm the pool during the winter and Council was investigation whether it was possible and, if it was, what it would cost.

A public information session to explain the redevelopment will be held tonight at the Council Chambers at 6pm. 

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