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Library development project still up in the air

December 12th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Library development project is still in limbo and will remain so for at least two further months, as Council grapples with issues of budget, inadequate consultation, a feasibility study and earthquake testing of buildings.

At yesterday's monthly meeting the Motueka Community Board attempts were made to unravel the project's status, and some frustration was expressed that sensible decisions and recommendations cannot yet be made by the board to Council as many of the facts remain unknown.

Most board members expressed their disquiet about the lack of any consultation whatsoever by project planners with the Motueka community and its leaders, especially on whether any alternative options are worth looking at beyond simply extending the current library building to the limit allowed by the allocated budget.

TDC's Strategic Development manager Susan Edwards (pictured right) astutely summarised the string of factors which are coming into play in the decision making process, including the risk that if the process is delayed or reconsidered the budgeted $1.1 million may be voted away by other councillors.

She said the project consultants will present their feasibility study for upgrading the existing library to Council on February 14th, and that this will be the time for looking at all the factors that will affect decision making.

Board member Cliff Satherley said planning so far had not taken into account any comparisons with other potential sites such as Decks Reserve, or co-location with other buildings such as i-SITE and the council service centre, or the larger hub proposal put forward by Vision Motueka.

Board member Paul Hawkes said we need to be thinking 10 years down the track rather than patching up a building that will quickly become inadequate again. Councillor Barry Dowler said that everything to do with public buildings is in the air now that Council is having to look at the earthquake resilience of its buildings, and that any problems found there may change the whole equation.

Councillor Eileen Wilkins said we all need to wait patiently until the Council's February meeting, and then all cards will need to be put on the table, including the community and tourist hub proposal and the various site options, as well as possible additional funding options. From then the final result will still have to go through the Council's Long Term Plan process.

Chairman David Ogilvie said he was certain that $1.1m will be totally inadequate to double the size of the library, based on commercially accepted per-metre costs for such buildings. He added his frustration that Council is giving more than that amount to help build the smaller Mapua Hall which Council does not even own.


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