Cliff Road back in contention

Cliff Rd is being considered for the museum site.

Cliff Rd as a possible museum site will have to receive the same levels of consideration as the central city site, Tauranga City councillors have been told.

The old netball courts on Cliff Rd were first offered to the Tauranga Moana Museum Trust after the waterfront museum on piers was rejected by voters.

The council offered the land and some cash for a geotechnical survey, which it later withdrew, and left the trust to it.

The Cliff Rd site is still supported by both the public and tangata whenua, councillors were told at this month’s City Transformation Committee meeting.

Chair Larry Baldock asked staff why architects had to be hired when the councillors had not yet made a choice about the available sites.

“We want to see the results of the investigation for Cliff Rd first so we get the options narrowed down a bit further before we start spending money on architects.”

Heart of the City director Adele Hadfield says the council has to continue to gather information for all of the options so that when they come to the decision point they have enough information on each option that clearly tells them across each of the criteria how the different options rank individually and with each other.

“If you stop working on one, you can’t then assess it against another to rank your preference,” says Adele.

Cliff Rd’s viability as a site is being assessed not just on how site issues may be solved architecturally, but also economically. There is a whole set of criteria staff will bring evidence back on to get to that preferred option. They need equal evidence against each of the three options.

“If you pause work on one now, it’s trying to assess one that’s been fully developed against something that’s been half-developed,” says Adele.

If the council doesn’t treat the assessment of each site equally and have a record of how the decision-making process is followed, the council may then be denied access to government funding for the museum from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, says project investment planner Carole Canler.

“This process just drives me nuts,” says Larry.

“The government requires us to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these business cases, thinking it is going to resolve all the questions. And actually the more you get into it, the more you find there are still going to be options at the end where we will make decisions based upon hopefully what the community has asked us to do.

“I am sure that a business case on a combined library/museum in Willow St will actually stack up, but that’s not the only criteria we will use to make our decision. We have already had a very clear signal from tangata whenua and from people who participated in the consultation about Cliff Rd.

“I personally want to see that investigated fully, and I can’t see why those are not sufficient options for us to complete our requirements for business cases.

“I will support the motion so we continue to move on.”

Information to enable the committee to make a decision about whether the museum will be free entry or user pays will be made next month.