Letter To The Editor
Published on 14 March 2017
The City of Ryde Council rejects the TWT article that was on the front page on 8 March 2017, titled ‘$2,000,000 $CANDAL’, based on the claim that the TWT had an expert opinion that the cost to repair the Civic Centre could be completed for less than $100,000.
This claim by the TWT is unfounded, lacks detail and is an insult to the readers of the TWT.
The following chronology of decisions and facts is provided to allow the community to understand and assess for themselves, the complex issues and facts relating to the Ryde Civic Centre site:
July 2011 – An independent assessment by WTP Partnership’s estimated the refurbishments of the Civic Centre and Civic Hall to make them fully Building Code of Australia (BCA) compliant to be $38.4 million.
Between 2010 and 2012 – Council developed a detailed proposal to develop the Civic Centre site (the Ryde Civic Precinct Development Proposal). The proposal was endorsed by Council on 12 June 2012. This proposal would have returned at minimal cost to Council, a new multi-purpose facilities valued at $79 million including new administration offices, performance space, community meetings rooms and Council Chambers.
October 2011 – Council allocated $0.69 million to address air conditioning at the Civic Centre and various matters at the Argyle Centre.
Following the Local Government Council elections in September 2012, the Mayoral election was held on 25 September 2012, when former Clr Ivan Petch was elected as Mayor.
At this meeting, the new Mayor, Clr Petch moved an Urgency Motion to rescind Council’s June 2012 decision relating to the Ryde Civic Precinct Development. The rescission motion was carried.
As a result, on 14 May 2013 Council approved a Maintenance Schedule for the Civic Centre building, at an estimated cost of $4.85 million.
Following this resolution, a comprehensive building assessment was undertaken resulting in a further report to Council on 13 May 2014. This detailed maintenance and refurbishment options ranging in cost from $4.3 million to $11.91 million. Council deferred its decision on this matter pending feedback from the Office of Local Government (OLG), due to the level of estimated expenditure.
This matter was then considered on 11 November 2014, with Council allocating $1 million in each of the next four years to meet any essential maintenance.
On 14 April 2015, Council resolved to establish a Ryde Civic Hub Committee to develop a new vision for the Ryde Civic Hub site (this resulted in the Design our Ryde architectural design competition).
After an inspection of the Ryde Civic Centre, on 12 October 2015 SafeWork NSW issued two Improvement Orders on the Ryde Civic Centre. The main issue centred on falling cement based ceiling tiles, which posed the biggest safety risk to staff and the public.
At the request of five Councillors, an Extraordinary Council meeting was held on 20 October 2015, relating to Health and Safety issues and unacceptable safety risks faced by staff and the public, together with the substantial costs likely to comply with BCA standards. At this meeting, Council resolved to relocate from the Civic Centre, and authorised the General Manager to secure alternative accommodation. As a result, Council secured alternative accommodation that was available at the time in North Ryde. This option provided, for the first time in many years, the opportunity to accommodate the majority of staff in one location. The pending merger was also taken into consideration when making this decision.
Council has a five year lease with options for additional periods. The current lease costs are $1.519 million p.a. for staff accommodation, plus car parking at $0.51 million, which is partially offset by staff contributions.
In relation to the status of the current Civic Centre site, Council is due to consider the results of the Economic Viability Analysis of the winning entry of the Design our Ryde project at the April 2017 Ryde Civic Hub Committee Meeting. Council will then be in a position to determine the next steps in this process.
Acting General Manager