OBA: “Aquatics Centre Promise Not Been Met”

November 29, 2012

[Updated] Government’s promise that the Aquatics Centre would be completed on time and on budget has not been met, OBA candidate C. Anthony Francis said last night.

Last year Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney said the project is “expected to be fully completed by September 2012, on time and within budget.”

The Aquatics Centre is expected to include a 50m 8-lane pool with a combined dive tank and dive platform and will offer swimming lessons, aquatic fitness classes, lap swimming, rehabilitation services and more.

Mr Francis said: “The announcement yesterday by Government Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney that the much-awaited Aquatics Centre being built on the concourse of the National Sports Centre should finally be ready to host events next spring is welcome news.

“However, the Government’s promise that the project would be completed ‘on time and on budget’ has not been met. Government’s original $15 million budget for the pool was revised upward to $16.2 million – and the project now appears to be coming in at a cost of $20 million. That is a cost overrun of more than 33 per cent.

“It was initially scheduled to be ready this autumn. So, far from being delivered ‘on time and on budget’, Government has presided over an additional capital project cost overrun this time to the tune of $5 million and the opening has been delayed.

“It is our understanding that the pool will be filled with water in January, and then will undergo testing with a view to being operational in April. We hope that the testing does not uncover any problems. The Aquatic Center must be ready to host the aquatic events at next July’s Island Games hosted by Bermuda. It is our hope that this project passes all tests to provide the swimming venue for the Games without additional costs and time delays being incurred.

Mr Francis continued: “The awaited completion of the Aquatic Center however does raise additional questions that we call on the Minister to answer. We believe the people of Bermuda deserve to know what both the projections for cost and for revenue are for running this facility.

“The Minister has indicated that this will be a community pool and that it ‘is not intended that it become exclusively the domain of elite athletes’, which highlights the requirement for constant upkeep. We are concerned that the facility’s monthly operating costs will far exceed the monthly revenue it generates – and we are asking the Minister to tell us what plans there are to pay for that shortfall and who those plans involve.

“Those monthly operating costs will include electricity, heating pumps in the winter, cooling in the summer, staff costs, the purchase of chemicals, maintenance costs, and other costs related to the operation of the facility.

“Further we also call on the Minister to advise the public who will manage the facility. We understand that a chief executive officer has been hired from overseas on a two-year contract that is to begin in January. The public should be informed about the cost of hiring this individual, including salary and any costs of relocation.

“We are aware of several Bermudians who are qualified to run the facility and are concerned that a guest worker has been hired to manage the Aquatics Centre when there are Bermudians who are fully qualified to do so. Was this hiring the recommendation of the National Governing Sports Organisation – The Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association (BASA)?

“We call on the Minister to provide information about the hiring process, and to advise whether any Bermudians were considered for the position that will be held by a guest worker,” concluded Mr Francis.

Update 5.42pm: Mr Blakeney responded saying: “Whenever the PLP invests in our people, we are attacked and obstructed by the OBA. Given their track record, we are not surprised that their candidate would criticise the Aquatic Center now.

“In the not too distant future, after the real benefits of this facility are realized the OBA will then say that not only was this a good investment , but that they had always supported its construction.”

“This investment in Bermuda is going to pay off. It’s going to pay off in sports tourism. It’s going to pay off for the development of our young athletes and it will pay off for the people of Bermuda.

“Here are the facts. The construction of the Aquatics Centre facility is not a Government construction project. The National Sports Centre is managed by a Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Minister, drawn from a broad spectrum of the community, including International Business, Banking, former Athletes and professionals. The Government allocates specific grants to the Board to develop the Aquatics Centre, and the Board takes it from there.

“According to the Board of Governors, there have been no overruns. In fact, any additional monies have been used for infrastructural enhancements and earmarked for future development and expansion at the site. Furthermore, there is a new parking lot which has been included on site allowing for over 250 vehicles to park inside the National Sports Center facility during events.

Mr Blakeney continued: “The delay in opening is the result of a belated requirement from Belco for a new electrical substation to ensure that once the pool is functioning, there would be an adequate and reliable supply of electricity for the entire Prospect area. Were it not for that, the pool would be filled and functioning now.

“The Board has retained the services of an internationally renowned aquatic facilities expert, to assist with the formation of development and implementation of systems, aquatic programs and policies specifically designed to international standards for the safe and efficient management of this world class facility.

“They will not only ensure that the Aquatics Centre is ready for international competition, but will take the National Sports Centre to the “next level,” establishing Bermuda’s National Sports Centre as the showpiece for sport in this region.

“We ask that the OBA focus less on attempting to mislead, misinform and misrepresent the facts and more on supporting the positive work that is being done here at the National Sports Centre.”

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  1. OBA: ‘Poor Planning’ Of National Aquatics Centre | Bernews.com | December 10, 2012
  1. Will says:

    they promised an aquatic centre? news to me

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  2. Winnie Dread says:

    I saw the opening on TV went up there to register but no water, was told it was not ready for use maybe by next summer. Why are we having big TV openings and things are not ready to be used, smdh ?? Oh my bad a election is dawning, fooled me once certainly won't fool me twice.

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  3. Uzi mon says:

    The fact that they are pushing back the deadline is not the most disturbing part. The budget to build an olympic size pool ranges at around $5 million imported by myrtha pools. Why is the govt spending 20 million on a project that they have been dragging out for several years? that money could have been put into local businesses, education or a countless amount of other economy boosters

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    • Foobar says:

      It's not an Olympic size pool as according to FINA. FR 3.6 states that "Number of lanes: 8 (eight), for World Championships and Olympic Games: 10 (ten)." As it only has 8 lanes, then it should not be considered Olympic.

      Source: http://www.fina.org/H2O/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=366:fr-3-swimming-pools-for-olympic-games-and-world-championships&catid=88:facilities-rules&Itemid=184

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  4. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    This pool has been a source of controversy for quite some time. The government was advised not to use concrete but some other product that was not only better but more cost effective to install and also required less upkeep. They decided to go ahead with concrete anyway.

    All in all, they have been working on this National Sports Center for how long now? 15? 20 years? Seems like forever and still incomplete.

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    • Really?? says:

      They have been working on the National Sports Center longer than that mate. Delays have been going on long before this government was in power.

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  5. street wise says:

    Against the advice of experts (as usual) the plp failed to provide a separate diving pool - like all professional 50 metre outdoor pools have elsewhere. Why? It's costing 4 times what the imported Myrtha pool would have cost, so there should have been plenty $$ for a diving pool. What was the rational explanation for it leaving out?? More $$ for F&F...??

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  6. X- Swimmer says:

    As former elite athlete and swimmer that has represented Bermuda at A international level numerous times who still has a great passion for the sport. I have a major problem the way this pool was build and the IGNORANT dismissal of the recommendations by BASA. the NSC trustees along with government ignoring the Swim associations recommendations lead us now to have a 20 million dollar facility that IS NOT WORLD CLASS and is of very little our community.

    Why have the pool built with 8 lanes instead of 10 lanes. As this is suppose to be our Natioanl Sports Centre and cater to ALL people building a 8 lane pool they Have not they taken into account the scheduling of all users during peak time? Considering all users i.e. 5 swim clubs, 5200 mandated school children, requested after school programs, Diving, water polo, synchronized swimming. How can all this be accommodated with a pool that has a diving well in one end which will half the available pool usage when in use. With a 10 lane pool design and a separate diving well as chosen by BASA many more schedule time slots are available to users.

    I wonder what the cost difference between a 10 lane 50M pool vs. an 8 lane pool. It has been shown a 10 lane 50M can fit on the site. If cost was a factor in selecting the 8 lane option – would it not have been an option to fundraise the difference with the end users? An extra 2 lane cannot be out of financial reach if needed?

    Why the hell did we build a pool that cannot hold major swim events in Bermuda ? This makes no dam sense we are losing out in so much. We could have held Carifta, CAC Games, and many other international swim meets could have been hosted in Bermuda. Why should swimming suffer , Track that can be used for a major Track meet..

    Why did we build a 50M Swimming pool that doesn’t meet the standards nor is on par with other world class faculties. Competitions require a warm-up/cool down pool for athletes. With the current plan this will mean we cannot hold any major competitions such as Carifta, Masters events etc

    So many questions I could go on and on but I am going to leave it Operations cost, BATHROOM FACILITES, Staffing, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CLUBS AND BASA REFUSE TO USE THE FACILITY!!!!! Like I said this pool was a great idea and had the possibility of being a great asset and source of income to Bermuda. We have this 20 Million dollar facility that is of little use to our Country because we have Governing boards that make decisions who don’t know ANYTHING!!!!

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    • For Real? says:

      Agreed 100%!

      As far as I am aware, Bermuda's best swimmers were not consulted at any point during the planning or construction of the new pool. Would it not have been a smart idea to ask the professionals (the swimmers)as they have travelled the world and competed at the best (and worst) facilities in the world? They are the ones who are knowledgeable about swimming and what would be a benefit and a detriment when building a new pool in Bermuda. I don't believe for one second that a politician or someone sitting in an office is at all aware of what a swimmer,swim team or swimming pool needs in order to be classified as a "world-class" facility. And this new pool is not it (except for the pool length)!

      Minimum Requirements;
      *Pool length = 50 meters (*BONUS - width should be 25 meters thus allowing approx 20 lanes for short course meter swimming too)
      *10 lanes - Same depth the entire length of the pool
      *Separate warm-up/warm-down pool (preferably 25 yards or 25 meters in length. This separate pool would be a great place to house the diving well...
      *Indoor facility (no need for pool covers, less expense for heating, controlled environment and no need to deal with the "outdoor elements" in our cooler winter months)
      *Build dorm style accomodation on site so overseas swim teams could and would come to BDA (from the Eastern seaboard) for training camps November through March)
      *BONUS Myrtha pool option = no rust and movable = less maintenence
      *many more points...

      This is very unfortunate as this project has been anticipated for decades yet those who know the most about swimming were not consulted at any point in the process.
      :(

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      • Verbal Kint says:

        The whole idea of the National Center was never to build a world class facility. It was to make some people rich. That's why no one was consulted. You don't need the input of runners and swimmers to advise people how to get paid a lot of money. The standard practice in Bermuda is to lie until you get caught and then continue to lie until people forget, then continue to lie until history doesn't remember the truth. This standard of practice is employed by most politicians, most lawyers, and the vast majority of the populace. This ongoing, long-term project is just another example. Bermuda is facing a much-deserved karma adjustment of mythic proportions. "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind."

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  7. Actually... says:

    I sat on the NSC board before the PLP got into power. The plan was always to build an 8 lane pool with diving at one end. We didn't consider the olympic sized diving platform but we had I believe the five meter and the diving boards. Truthfully, the site does not accommodate the 10 lane pool and separate other pools because the overall plan has an hotel and conference center in it. I visited the pool last week and it actually looks very much like the original design we had.

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    • For Real? says:

      So....the original plan and design from over 14 years ago (prior to the PLP as you state) is similar to what we have just built...? Talk about behind the times...
      Not so concerned about 10 lanes, but at least provide a separate pool for warm-down thus enabling Bermuda to host a major long course meter swimming event.....
      BTW a hotel or conference center is not required at National Stadium. Dormatories and a cafeteria would suffice and would cater to the clientele most likely to use the facilities -> Athletes
      (If Bermuda wants to create an environment for sports tourism that is...)

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