News Flash: Salisbury Wood Convention Center Cancelled Over Budget Concerns

“Stone Henge” Silly Name Anyway, Critics Say

The project to build a convention center in Salisbury Wood was cancelled this week in a stormy meeting of the Future Wiltshire Economic Development Corporation (FWEDC).

Members of the corporation cited unexpected delays and cost overruns related to the construction of the ring of vertical bluestones that was to be the focal point of the larger structure.  Current plans now call for construction to be curtailed once the ring is complete.

Much of the cost overruns have sprung from higher-than-expected labor costs related to excavating the bluestones and moving them from Pembrokeshire to the work site, due in part to increases in workers compensation insurance premiums to cover the notoriously accident-prone Beaker people responsible for most of the work.  Also, the project has experienced a number of modifications and additions.

“Of course there have been some changes to the design,” said Gronw Pebyr of Math Mathonwy and Co, the architectural firm that inherited the project from its original architects.  “With these big projects that take dozens or even hundreds of years to complete, naturally the fashions are going to change in the meantime, which means the designs have to be updated.  That’s going to drive some delays, but the alternative is to build a project that’s outdated as soon as it’s built.  And nobody wants that.”  Mr. Pebyr dismissed critics who accused the firm of dragging out the construction time line in hopes of ensuring a never-ending stream of change orders to implement.

One addition to the basic design has been particularly troublesome:  a time portal, designed by magician and self-described “scientist” Chronophobos of Punxsutawney.  The time portal is designed to ease the burden of travel by providing visitors with instant transportation to the area, as well as increasing the target market segment by making the convention center available to visitors from different eras of history.

The additon of the time portal has attracted its share of criticism.  “As far as I can see, we’ve spent so much time and effort on the means of getting tourists into the area that we can no longer provide them any reason to come in the first place,” argued FWEDC member Manawydden ap Llyr.  “And if there aren’t enough conventions being held these days to justify a new convention center without the time portal, doesn’t that raise the question of why we’d build a convention center at all?”

Fellow FWEDC member Kilhwch ap Kai rose to the time portal’s defense.  “To say that we’re not building the rest of the convention center now is hardly the same as saying we’ll never build it,” he said.  “As soon as the economy recovers and we pay off some of the debt we’ve incurred so far, we can come back and finish.  And when we do, we’ll have a unique and invaluable tool for bringing tourists into town.

“You can build a convention center any time; but Chronophobos says he won’t be here forever.  We only had one shot at this.  Building the portal was absolutely the right decision.”

Mr. Kilhwch also pointed out that, in addition to increasing the center’s potential customer base, the portal is also expected to help resolve scheduling conflicts. “This portal allows us to avoid the awkwardness associated with double-booking.  If by some chance a double-booking occurs, we can send the double-booked party through the portal into the off-season. They get to have their event at a discount, the original party can go on unimpeded, and everybody’s happy.”

“And even if we never get around to building the rest of the center, it isn’t a total loss,” continued Kilhwch.  “Even though the end product is somewhat smaller than one might expect, the bluestone ring still makes an impressive monument in its own right.  I’m sure that, over time, it will contribute a great deal to the local tourism industry.”

Public comment tended to disagree with this outlook.  “That bunch of bluestones, a monument?” scoffed Kyfwlch ap Sefwlch.  “Monuments are typically meant to remind people of something.  What kind of monument is this going to be?  A monument to poor project management?”

“It would have been a silly name for a convention center, anyway,” said Creiddylad of Ceredigion, another project critic.  “Stone Henge, indeed:  there may be stones, but the ditch is clearly outside the earthen bank.  Not only is the name vapid and unimaginative, but it’s also technically inaccurate.”

The motion to accept the revised plan passed on a 2-1 vote, with two members unable to make the meeting due to adverse weather.

Copyright 2014

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