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Aquatics Centre ’on schedule and budget’ Trustees chief

National Sports Centre Board of Trustees chairman, Sean Tucker, last night refuted claims by One Bermuda Alliance that the Aquatics Centre is behind schedule and over budget.

Tucker was responding to suggestions last week by OBA candidate for the area, Anthony Francis, that there were costs associated to the project that the Government should inform the public about.

Just an hour after the Trustees hosted an open house at the facility for several groups, including the Island’s schools, health groups and swim clubs who will use the facility, an e-mail was sent to The Royal Gazette by Francis, repeating his call for answers from Government.

“Last week I posed several questions to the Minister of Youth, Sports and Families, Glenn Blakeney,” Francis wrote. “These questions were an attempt to bring some transparency and accountability to the National Aquatic Centre project, which cost $20 million — some 33 percent over the budgeted amount. The Minister has not responded, and so we call on him again to advise the Bermuda public of the full costs related to the Aquatic Centre.

“We also called on the Minister to advise the public who will manage the facility, and we said that we understood that a chief executive officer had been hired from overseas on a two-year contract.”

During the first tour of the facility last night, attended by about 70 people, Tucker insisted that the Centre was on schedule and on budget.

“They said it was over budget and that it was late and that’s not true,” said Tucker. “We had promised it would be finished by the fall of this year and essentially it is finished. We’re waiting for the power (supply) to be finished by Belco.

“When this was designed they told us the old substation would be sufficient to provide our power supply. Since then the code has changed and they told us it is not going to be sufficient and we had to build the new substation that you see over there. If it wasn’t for that we would have been able to open up by the end of the year. That would have been in keeping with our original plan, maybe a few weeks late.

“It works out ideally for us because it gives us the winter months for a soft launch and get everything tested. After the holiday we will fill the pool and do the testing and makes sure everything works.”

The OBA continues to ask questions about the hiring of Canadian consultant Bernie Asbell as CEO of the National Sports Centre.

“What is the cost of hiring Mr. Asbell, or his consultancy, including salary/consulting fee, and any costs of relocation?,” Francis wanted to know.

“We also call on the Minister to provide information about the hiring process for the position of chief executive officer of the Aquatics Centre, and to advise whether any Bermudians were considered for the position that will apparently be held by a guest worker.”

Tucker insisted that the new facility needed someone of Asbell’s experience to run it initially. “We’ve never had a 50-metre pool here before and Bernie’s role is to identify and prepare a Bermudian to take on the role,” said Tucker.

“He’s a consultant and is acting in this role on an interim basis. We want to be able to hit the ground running and get things up and running by someone who has done this before.

“He was a consultant for the Olympics, he’s worked in Australia and all across North America. He has a tremendous amount of experience in running not only aquatics facilities but private and public sports facilities.

”We wanted to get the best person for the job and a critical part of his role is to identify and prepare a Bermudian to take over.”

Photo by Glenn Tucker Night tour: Stakeholders were given a tour of the Aquatics Centre by the NSC Trustees last night. Hosting the group was site superintendent (top left) and National Sports Centre interim CEO Bernie Asbell (centre).

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Published December 06, 2012 at 8:31 am (Updated December 06, 2012 at 8:31 am)

Aquatics Centre ’on schedule and budget’ Trustees chief

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