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Soccer pitch measurement bungle fix to cost Mount Barker ratepayers $70,000

Adelaide Hills ratepayers have been hit with a $70,000 bill because of an “unfortunate mistake” made before construction began on two new soccer pitches.

Football South Australia (FSA) awarded a tender to contractor Greenplay Australia for the elite pitches currently under construction at Mount Barker’s Regional Sports Hub.

But the Mount Barker District Council said a planning error has meant they will need widening and lengthening, because the specified dimensions were larger in initial plans than they were in a document provided to the contractor.

“Council was recently made aware by the FSA that the specified dimensions in the construction design plans for ‘full-size’ premier pitches are two metres wider and five metres longer (that is they are larger) than that included in the … tender award,” a council document stated.

Deputy Mayor Samantha Jones said the issue arose after FSA gave different dimensions to Greenplay and to the council, and described it as an “unfortunate mistake”.

“It’s going to be more expensive to place a [changed] pitch there, considering the majority of the earthworks have already taken place.”

A portrait picture of a woman with blonde hair and bauble earrings.
Deputy Mayor Samantha Jones wants the cost of fixing the error to be split.(Facebook: Samantha Jones)

The council and FSA have contributed to the cost of two artificial pitches dollar-for-dollar until this point but the council has been left to cover the entire cost of the error, Ms Jones said.

She said the cost of fixing the error was initially estimated at $130,000 but that figure has now been revised down to $70,000.

The council on Monday night voted to cover the cost of the bill, despite the previous 50-50 arrangement.

“With this mistake, regardless of who was at fault or anything like that … why wouldn’t that [fix] be 50-50, at a minimum?” Ms Jones said.

FSA blames high cost of fix on COVID-19

FSA chief executive Michael Carter acknowledged the mistake was not Greenplay’s fault, but that the contractor had received the wrong dimensions from tender documents developed by the association.

“The tender documents went out in September 2017 for a specific size and, when the design drawings were sighted, there was an error picked up,” he said.

Picture of a bulldozer on a large, flat area of dirt. There are trees in the background.
The council has been left to cover the entire cost of the error.(Supplied: Mount Barker District Council)

Mr Carter said previous “value management” — which he explained as attempts to bring the total cost of the project down — should be taken into consideration.

“We’ve been working very closely with council throughout this process and, in fact, Football South Australia led to a reduction in the cost of lighting through procurement of up to half a million dollars,” he said.

“That hasn’t been brought out into the light.”

The chief executive said FSA was now negotiating with the contractor to bring down the $70,000 fee.

“What has also compounded this issue is that the exchange rates, given COVID-19, have reduced significantly and this has put a lot of funding pressure on,” he said.

“It’s a $20 million project, there is a significant project contingency and what we also need to take into consideration is that the funds that are going to be paid will be payable from funds that Football South Australia hold.”

The SA Government is also a contributor to the project.

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