Thursday 15 September 2011

Work on children's play area at Sugarworld water park stalls because of safety concerns

Daniel Strudwick
Thursday, September 15, 2011
© The Cairns Post

PARTS of the new Sugarworld water park won't be ready in time for the summer holidays, with construction of the children's area stalled by concerns over safety standards.

An independent consultant, hired by Cairns Regional Council to monitor the $5.066 million park revamp, found the new kids interactive play system did not reach the highest safety regulations in Australia.

A report to councillors revealed it would cost about $200,000 to bring the equipment up to scratch, and work was on hold while a risk assessment was carried out.

Sugarworld’s three main slides will be ready to open in December, but the children’s play area won’t open until the end of February.

The council could also have to pay an extra $320,000 for other unplanned costs, including installing a retaining wall and balustrades.

Council officers are negotiating with the contractors over who will foot the bill for the extra costs, which could add more than $500,000 to the total cost.

The council’s sport and recreation team leader Tim Dendle told councillors the new costs had arisen because the council had committed to complying with the highest safety and building standards in the country.

He said the subcontractors supplying the equipment, Australian Waterslides and Leisure Pty Ltd, were going by different safety standards that didn’t meet the council’s

"So we’re asking them to make some modifications so it meets that higher standard and there is a bit of discussion about who will meet those costs," Mr Dendle said.

"Worst-case scenario would be the council, best case, the contractor." The area’s councillor, Nancy Lanskey, was concerned the setback might push back the planned reopening in December.

But council officers assured Cr Lanskey the redevelopment could be opened to the public in stages, and most of the water park was still on track to reopen in time for the summer school holidays.

Fabrication and construction of the main three slides was almost complete, and electrical and hydraulics works had started.


Cr Lanskey, you have no reason to stand proud smiling as your photographed in amongst the ruins of the Sugar World Park. Instead you should hang you head in shame for your lack of vigilance.

Sugarworld Water Park from the time it was closed down has been an embarrassment to the Cairns Regional Council and in particular Divisional 2 Councillor Nancy Lanskey. It has also shown up Council and its officers as incompetent and unprofessional.

The original replacement cost of $4 million was provided for in 2010/2011 budget. An additional amount of $1 million was provided in this financial year and now there is a further $500,000 needed to ensure safety standards are met. 

Why wasn't the safety specifications outlined when the slides were put out to tender in the first place?A competent Council would have in the first instance carried out proper periodic safety inspection with ongoing repairs while the water park was in operation, therefore avoiding closure.

A competent Divisional Councillor with  hands on representation would have monitored the council asset to ensure its longevity instead of allowing it to deteriorate to such an extent that it had to be closed down for safety reasons.

This whole sordid saga has cost the ratepayer over $5.6 million when proper ongoing maintenance would have ensured the continuing operation and the saving of the bulk of the replacement costs.

Ross Parisi
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