Council has said that despite the termite problem at the Merimbula Airport terminal, renovation and extension remains more cost effective than designing and building a new structure.
Following a recent story on the progress of the terminal refurbishment, there was criticism of the decision to renovate rather rebuild. The roof which contained asbestos had to be removed and replaced but the discovery of termite damage meant that the structure was stripped to a skeleton.
Commenting on social media disability advocate Chris Sparks said that with all the updates, including toilets, it was a missed opportunity that plans failed to include a changing place. In response Cr Mitchell Nadin agreed. "We had no idea the reno was going to go so far," he said.
Considering the budget and the funding deed deliverables, the refurbishment of the existing building and a new extension was deemed to be more cost effective solution than if a whole new structure was designed and constructed.Bega Valley Shire Council
Speaking to the News Weekly Cr Nadin said he had wanted to see a completely new terminal but as the proposal for a refurbishment had gone out to tender, it wasn't possible.
"When I saw the extent of the renos I was shocked and disappointed that we weren't bulldozing it down and rebuilding," he said.
But council said the decision to pursue an extension and refurbishment of the existing building rather than a complete knockdown and new build of the terminal was directly linked to the available project budget.
"Considering the budget and the funding deed deliverables, the refurbishment of the existing building and a new extension was deemed to be more cost effective solution than if a whole new structure was designed and constructed," council said in a statement to the News Weekly.
"This remains true despite the termite and structural deficiencies found in the existing structure during the build process," the council statement added.
Council said that due diligence building inspections were carried out on the sections of the facility that were to be altered and the design addressed these findings.
"It was only after the demolition and strip out of the asbestos roof and flooring elements of the existing building was undertaken that these issues became evident, as they were only able fully identified at this time," council said in its statement.
With respect to Mr Sparks' comments on having a changing place at the airport council said that funding received from the federal government for the terminal upgrade was predicated on delivering a departure terminal (airside) with luggage and passenger screening.
"The design includes accessible facilities in accordance with current Disability Discrimination Act and Building Code of Australia requirements, but these can only be accessed once you pass through screening (so not readily accessible for the general public) once screening is implemented into the future," council said.
Council added that while the toilets in the arrival area will have disabled access, the size remains unchanged and said that they are not of the necessary size to accommodate a changing place. Council said that many more elements would be required to be retrofitted to the space, and that would have had budgetary impacts.
The money for the airport terminal work was announced in May 2016 when the federal government said work was expected to commence that year on the upgrade of Merimbula Airport, with $1.2 million from the federal government (which was to be matched by $1.2m from council) and $4.4 million from the state government.