Tauranga reserve to get a spruce up
Work on lifting the look of the Aspen Reserve to match its new neighbour is about to go ahead.
The former $800,000 project has been reduced to $500,000, but it will still look the same, Tauranga City Transformation committee members have been told.
Along with the budget restraints, city councillors also resolved in December 2017 to make it a design and build project, but that is not going to happen.
Staff trimmed the construction budget back to $500,000, but councillors acquiesced on the design and build point.
Staff didn’t like the council’s design and build direction, and city centre manager James Woodward argued against it in his report.
He says among other things that with small projects, design and build hands over too much design control to the contractor.
Design and build is appropriate for larger projects where there is complexity, high levels of risk and opportunity for the supplier to innovate during delivery, says James.
As well as possibly losing sight of the community’s wishes for the site, the use of a design and build for a small-scale project could be unattractive in the current market.
The demand for both consultancy and construction resources is high at present and as a result, fewer tenders are being received for this type of work.
Also suppliers are becoming more selective about their forward works programmes, and are avoiding projects perceived as risky, complex or difficult without compensating margins.
The biggest cost saving in the revised budget was the removal of $96,000 which is a reduction in allowance for construction overheads, contingency for risk and allowance for construction escalation.
A further $70,000 saved by removing the intended up-lighting on trees and pouwhenua, which will reduce the reserves night time visual appeal.
They also save $52,000 by reducing the average wall height from 1m to 600mm. And $24,000 by keeping the existing asphalt footpath on Willow Street, instead of concreting it in line with other new reserve structures. Total estimates savings are $265,000.
“We are also recommending that this project go straight to design and construction,” says James.
“Previously with the access to water project and Durham Street we came back with a detailed design. With this project being a slightly smaller scale and wanting to accelerate the delivery to meet the requirements in line with the reserve development by a private developer, we just want to bring that forward.”
The committee revoked the previous resolution, and it will put the new recommendation to council, dropping the design and build requirement.
Committee chair Larry Baldock is happy the changes are recommended back to council.
“I’m a bit concerned about the savings,” says Larry.
“When you take $96,000 out of the contingency and risk you are exposing yourself to a budget overrun, and it’s to meet the requirement of that council resolution that we slashed it by so much money.
“I personally think that some of it, retaining the existing asphalt may well decrease the amenity of the place. The lighting, a shame to see it go. Council can debate it now, and there may be a different response when it gets back there.”
Aspen Reserve is part of the earliest settlement in Tauranga by both Maori and Europeans. It was part of a large area cultivated for food by Maori until it came into European possession.
Until 2011, it contained one of the oldest trees in Tauranga. Commonly referred to as an Aspen poplar, it was, in fact an American hardwood more commonly known as a cottonwood.
The origins of the tree are uncertain. The tree was likely to have been planted by the armed constabulary, which carried out many public works in the late-1860s.
The current major tree is the Pohutukawa located in the southern side of the reserve adjacent to Willow Street. This tree is at least 40 years old and was probably planted in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
The stonewall along the Willow Street boundary has some portions that are more than 100 years old but has been modified in places over time.
Two Irish yews bound the entranceway through the wall were most likely planted in the late 1970s or early 1980s along with the remnants of a garden at the lower level of the site.
Aspen Reserve has been the venue for a number of successful small concerts and plays. The intention is to retain this function by enhancing this aspect of the reserve.