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Banks Street site blessed on Monday

20 Nov 2009

Banks Street site blessed on Monday

A spade won’t be big enough for the official sod-turning ceremony taking place on Monday for the city’s new wastewater treatment plant.  Instead Mayor Meng Foon, a former market gardener accustomed to such work, will man a digger to clear a small section of soil on the Banks Street site.

The ceremony will be held at 3pm on Monday 23 November.  A ribbon will also be cut to open council’s new archive facility also on the Banks Street site. The archives will be blessed by kaumatua John Pomana before the proceedings move to where the treatment plant will be built.

The historic occasion, regarded as the official start to the $39.5m Gisborne Wastewater Project, will be attended by a wide cross-section of people involved in the process to date.  This includes individuals and groups with widely divergent views, who came together to form the Wastewater Adjournment Review Group (WARG). The group included iwi and hapu representatives, health professionals and council staff.  All were an integral part of the planning process.

“Many of the Treaty of Waitangi Claimants have been party to the cooperative Tangata Whenua and council approach to wastewater. Their input marks a promising beginning for the post Treaty of Waitangi claim settlement relationship between Tūranga Whiriwhiri, (Turanga Waitangi Claimants Group) and council. Alongside the other Tūranga Claimants, council is hopeful that this spirit of cooperative progression for the community as a whole may become stronger,” said council chief executive Lindsay McKenzie.

Council earlier this month let the main tender of $21m to Auckland-based HEB Construction, which is now responsible for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant and the industrial separation scheme. Council project manager Peter McConnell and CH2M Beca staff will continue to oversee the project as it works toward its December 2010 commissioning. By then the city’s wastewater will be treated to a far higher standard than currently.  Wastewater will be processed through a new biological trickling filter system before being discharged through the existing 1.8km outfall to the sea.

Engineering and works manager Peter Higgs says the sod-turning ceremony is an important milestone for the project. “A massive amount of work has gone into getting to this point. CH2M Beca initially designed a scheme to meet the consents we were granted in September 2007. But the community could not afford the $84m cost. We went back to the drawing board and, with the commitment and collaboration of the wastewater working group, reduced the scope of the scheme and shifted the site to Banks Street, thereby shaving $40m off the project cost.  “Getting the detail right in the first place enabled us to achieve an excellent tender price which reduced the total cost to $39.5m. “We look forward to progressing the project in this same positive vein over the next 12 months.” A tour of the buildings on the Banks Street site will be available after the blessings. Council’s rivers and drainage and pests and plants departments are moving to the site and a new archives facility is already installed. Five on site areas will be leased commercially.