Following on from our earlier posting (8th February – refer to the GESAC Topic heading – you may need to scroll down to access it) on the largest single capital works project ever undertaken by Glen Eira Council, i.e. the $50+m Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC) we thought it important to advise residents and ratepayers of the current state of play.
Although we believe that those bearing the bulk of the financial burden of the facility (i.e. ratepayers, residents and GESAC Members) should be kept informed of the facility’s progress Council does not. Instead of following the principles of “open, transparent and accountable governance” and, despite residents’ concerns being recorded in the local media and on the GESAC website, Council continues to provide either scant information or silence.
To continue on the sorry GESAC saga –
- At the 13 December Council Meeting it was announced that “further delays” would result in an “after the end of January opening date”
- A Leader article, 17th January, 2012 indicates that “after the end of January” has become “in March, 2012”.
- At the first Council Meeting for 2012, (7th February, 2012) no update on GESAC progress is presented, however, a $0.5m GESAC revenue loss is recognised for December, 2011. Please note, the limited information provided in the minutes does not enable us to determine reduced GESAC expenses which would offset the revenue loss.
- At the 28th February, 2012 Council Meeting an end of March opening date is announced. The GESAC website is updated with an undated letter from Cr. Michael Lipshutz, Chairman of the Pools Steering Committee (i.e. the Committee appointed to oversee GESAC project) stating that “GESAC will open as soon as possible but that is unlikely to be before the end of schools’ Term One (30 March)”.
- At the 20th March, 2012 Council meeting no update on GESAC progress is presented (where are the minutes of the Pools Steering Committee Meeting of 8th March!!!), however a $1.3m GESAC revenue loss is recognised (Council Minutes, 20th March, 2012 – Item 9.9 Financial Report for period ending January, 2012 – page 6). Again, limited information does not enable the determination of an offsetting reduction in GESAC expenses.
The end of March is nigh and no opening date has been announced. Although, the GESAC website and the Glen Eira News, April 2012 feature pictures of the various areas within GESAC, no opening date is given. The comment that the centre “is nearing completion” is all that is mentioned.
Residents, ratepayers and GESAC members can be forgiven for wondering
- if there is any significant difference between the previous “after the end of January” vs. the current “is nearing completion” and
- what it means for their ability to access the facility.
This is the result of Council’s failure to provide any significant information on the progress of GESAC.
While the construction/ outfitting and commissioning delays may raise questions about Council’s project management skills, there can be no doubt that Council’s handling of communication regarding delays in the project, falls way short of “open, transparent and accountable governance”. At best it has been, and is, inadequate. While the primary responsibility for this failure in communication can be directly attributable to those elected officials on the Steering Committee (i.e. Lipshutz (Chair), Esakoff and Magee), this failure is also shared with the other Councillors for their unquestioning and unanimous acceptance of whatever was presented and their long term failure to listen to their constituents.
This inadequate communication continued today, when an article (signed by Andrew Newton, CEO) appeared on Council’s website. The last bullet point indicates an April, 2012 opening date. Less than 5 weeks until the end of April and still no mention of an actual date.
On behalf of all concerned ratepayers, residents and GESAC members and potential users, GERA will be pressuring Council to
- designate an actual date
- provide a critical path analysis (with timeline) for expected completion.