Montefiore: An Unsolicited Park Lands Proposal

A major Unsolicited Proposal to Town Hall could soon trigger an avalanche of them, once locals sniff the opportunities.

Spring bursts and Sir Monty’s mood is buoyant. After months during which Adelaide innovation and creative thinking appeared to slow to a crawl, the zing is back. Who would have thought that Town Hall had such capacity to jolt the city with such fresh vibrancy?

The cause was the recent release of its new Unsolicited Proposals guidelines, a pathway through which “local individuals and organisations can offer unique, innovative ideas and solutions to help realise its 2016–20 Strategic Plan”. It’s to entice “innovators, entrepreneurs, investors” — categories exquisitely fitting Sir Monty’s profile as he diligently pursues his life’s work — Services to Old Adelaide Money (OAM).

The guidelines apply to any unsolicited proposal valued over $100,000. According to Lord Mayor Martin Haese in July 2017, “New ideas are essential to the ongoing growth of the City of Adelaide … Council recognises that new ideas and partnerships are important to realising our strategic outcomes,” he wrote in an introduction. This was a little puzzling, given that the strategic plan, which underwent major surgery in 2016 to ensure that it was chock-full of the liveliest ideas and partnerships to deliver the 2020 goods.

Not enough, apparently!

Guidelines cover proposals for ‘the purchase, lease, or development of council owned or managed land’, as well as ‘the provision of infrastructure for the community’, or ‘an innovation or entrepreneurship with benefits to the council’. Crucially, a proposal must be unique, defined by criteria to be met by a proponent who can show that he or she “owns something that would limit other parties from being able to deliver the proposal, ie, intellectual property, strategic landholdings; has unique finance arrangements that enable delivery of the proposal where other parties would no be able to; has a genuinely innovative idea.” The proposal also must represent value for money for Town Hall, such as financial, economic and/or community benefits.

It is said (among the star gazers) that the planets align rarely, and generally only briefly, and almost always only for the Chosen Ones. Sir Monty must be one. He’s been offered an option to buy Adelaide’s 720 hectares of Adelaide’s park lands. A privatisaton Lands Titles Office garage sale has turned up a carton of Crown titles, going cheap. The land features 200,000 trees, irrigation systems, turf and lakes: total 2016 replacement value $44,174,340^. He now finds himself in a commanding position to offer Town Hall a unique Unsolicited Proposal.

Next — a “period of exclusive negotiation” (Town Hall’s words), with the comforting knowledge that the Stage 1 assessment period was suddenly cut on 25 July 2017 from 90 wearisome days to 45. These guys mean business. The park lands option is driven by a Town Hall fear of multiple risks, such as plants dying under summer stress, trees falling on people, water infections causing public illness, etc.

Sir Monty loves a bit of risk, so his offer of $100,001 is not only fair value, but also (by one dollar) complies with the new guideline threshold. Those 45 days will be important, given that it will take a while to wrangle a loan using club silverware as collateral.

Now for the Unsolicited Proposal — Sir Monty’s unique Continuous Linear Defined Construct (CLDC™), an innovation that will excite the Unsolicited Proposals Coordinator and the Steering Committee to whom he reports. The park lands demands an annual upkeep budget of $20m (2017), which will balloon to $25m in five years’ time*. Ouch. But almost all of this spending could be avoided were the park lands totally fenced off from the public. The cost — a couple of million.

Given that the park lands endure ongoing wear and tear and face costly operational and maintenance costs, urgent attention and the CLDC™ Proposal is the key to satisfying the accountants. Readers might snort at the viability of the idea, but Sir Monty has already scoped the rigorous Town Hall tests that the CLDC™ will face, because somebody accidentally left the assessment criteria at his club.

Here they are:

– Value for money proposition? Yes: a one-off cost of $2m, but a saving of $20m (indexed) annually.

– Is it legally, technically and financially feasible? Is Donald Trump a blonde? Cost benefit analysis? Awesome.

– Would the CLDC™ be more appropriately the subject of a competitive bidding process? Possibly — there are steel fence contractors in Adelaide that would kill to put in a tender for kilometres of two-metre-tall mesh fencing dropped into concrete footings.

– Is there risk? Not much, especially given that there would be no gates.

– Delivery method? B-Double truck delivery, in a park-by-park construction approach.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Adelaide. The only asset that was already in place when Col Bill Light surveyed open woodland in 1836 was the land subject to this brilliant Town Hall Unsolicited Proposal. And its preservation, via the gateless fence, would honour the desire of every South Australian and the statutory principles of the Adelaide Park Lands Act, 2005. No access — no more funny business. No more uproar. Huge saving for the bean counters. What’s not to like?

^ Park Lands and Open Space Asset Management Plan, Corporation of the City of Adelaide, Agenda 18 October 2016, page 4. * – Same doc, page 38. † – Same doc, page 34.

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