Quay like missing tooth says yacht club boss
CLYDE Quay Boat Harbour could be the jewel in Wellington’s crown, but Dean Stanley says it looks more like the missing tooth in Wellington’s smile.
Mr Stanley is chief executive of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, and his office window looks over the Clyde Quay boat sheds.
He is spearheading a push to redevelop the wharf, replacing rusty slipways and weather-beaten concrete with a wooden promenade, events venues, parks, water sports facilities and a wind energy education centre.
However, there are concerns about how much ratepayer money will be spent on the project.
Mr Stanley believes the changes will transform Clyde Quay into a place where people come and enjoy time with their families.
“The current perception is that it’s a private area, although it’s not.”
Mr Stanley says after the area is redeveloped it will be used by more people and for more purposes: “Kayaks, paddle boats, waka ama, sailing boats, you come in and you discover, experience and learn a range of ocean sports.”
He says Wellington could attract international match racing competitions, and new features would be available for regular events.
“Imagine a party boat in the harbour during Homegrown.”
The proposed redevelopment was first set in motion in 2006, and Wellington City Council decided this month to begin consultation on the next phase of the project.
This will include studies of wave patterns, the seabed and geotechnical data such as silt and contamination testing, and is estimated to cost $205,000.
A decision will be made about whether to approve funding for this in June.
Mr Stanley is enthusiastic about the redevelopment plans, but there are concerns about the cost to ratepayers.
In the city council Strategy and Policy Committee report considered on March 12, council officers suggest the Clyde Quay redevelopment could have a negative impact on city finances.
“Unless offsetting savings are identified, this project would put the council over its new borrowings target,” the report says.
Councillor Justin Lester leads the community facilities portfolio, and he says while there are great expenses attached he thinks there could also be great benefits.
“It’s a really worthwhile project,” he says.
“Other projects could fall by the wayside. We have to balance the books.”
Mr Lester says some costs could be offset by contributions from philanthropists.
Wellington Waterfront Watch chair Pauline Swann has similar views.
“As a ratepayer I’m very interested in what’s going on – the costs might be going up,” she says.
Mrs Swann says her group has spoken to Mr Stanley and the yacht club, and after relaying the details of this meeting she received no objections or concerns from her members.
The capital cost of upgrading the marina, improving public access to Clyde Quay and building initial water sports facilities is conservatively estimated to be $7.36 million, and will be funded over three years by council borrowing.
Once work is complete, on-going costs will be paid for with ratepayer money, and are expected to fall between $3million to $4 million.
In addition to this, the council is considering separately proposals to build a renewable energy centre and a full-fledged ocean water sports centre, which will together cost more than $7 million.
It hopes $1 million of that would be acquired through community funding grants.
The marina currently pays for its own operating costs out of fees charged to the boat owners who use it, and this will not change if redevelopment goes ahead.
The marina upgrade will allow for a third more boats in the harbour and will generate more revenue over time, with boaties set to face higher fees.
The council report notes, however, that for an unspecified period after the marina is upgraded it may not be able to pay its own way.
“Financial modelling shows there would be an initial period, as the occupancy of the boat harbour grows and the fee increases are phased in, where the activity would not fully
fund its costs and would require ratepayer support.”
The fee increases have raised concerns, with an independent report by Wardale Marine Industry Consulting describing them as “too aggressive.”
The Wardale report says they could lead to Clyde Quay boat harbour having the highest rental rates in the region.