Photo: ADAM WRIGHT
THE basketball stadium in Wellington, New Zealand that is being used as a benchmark by Shoalhaven City Council in its deliberations over the Northern Indoor Leisure Centre is a “cold and sterile horrible place”, according to Nick Mills from the Wellington Saints basketball team.
In an email to local basketball elder statesman John Martin, Mr Mills also derided the Wellington stadium for having scoreboards in the wrong place and inadequate seating.
This damning assessment has come to light as council, under instructions from Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash, called a halt to further negotiations with Etch Architectural Solutions, the Victorian company that won the design tender over local firm Facility Design Group.
An extraordinary meeting of council yesterday afternoon was considering a rescission motion calling for the suspension of last week’s vote to accept the staff advice to go with Etch as a report is prepared for councillors detailing how staff arrived at that recommendation.
The decision to overlook local tenderers met with outcry from the local basketball community and architect Stephen Johansson, whose pitch for the business was pipped by the Victorian firm.
Cambewarra-based Mr Johansson, whose company Facility Design Group had been involved with the design for the Northern Indoor Leisure Centre for two-and-a-half years, was furious when he learned his pitch had lost to Etch Architectural Solutions.
Mr Johannson was first brought in to amend the original development application – in what’s known as a Section 96 – and design for the centre.
“When I got the job and looked at the original development application and saw how flawed it was and how unbuildable it was I convinced council that it was just the wrong way to go.
“Naturally any major change of building envelope needs a new DA. So my original commission of a Section 96 turned into something that I should have got double the money for but I only charged an extra little bit of money.
“I did myself out of what would normally be fees for such a facility,” Mr Johansson said.
He estimated he did himself out of up to $80,000 for the extra design work.
He said the tender documents were flawed because they insisted the new leisure centre be built in two stages, allowing current operations on the two basketball courts to continue while temporary amenities were installed.
“That won’t work,” Mr Johansson said.
“That will be an occupational health and safety nightmare.
“Imagine stripping off all the asbestos off the building – are you going to have kids playing in there or what? Or near there? The whole site will be a contamination site.”
Mr Johansson said being local would be an advantage during the construction phase.
“They will get 150 per cent out of me because it’s my town and I want to leave a legacy here. All our kids have gone to Bomo High School and I couldn’t be prouder doing a job in my home town.
“I’m five minutes down the road. These [Etch] architects have to fly from Melbourne. They’ve got an hour and a half drive to the airport, an hour flight and two and a half hours down here. Guess what. They’re not going to be here much.
“The architect has to be on board throughout the course of the job. There’s a million and one details in a building. There are going to be issues. There’s got to be sensible decision making during the course of the building,” he said.
Mr Johansson has designed and built many sports centres around the country, including the Tamworth Sports Dome, which has been hailed as one of the best sports centres in the country.