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Council drops library plan in favour of hub development

February 13th, 2013

Council will defer its planned upgrade of Motueka Library possibly for a year while a working party investigates building a new community and visitor hub, with library, in Decks Reserve.

The decision, to be confirmed at TDC's full council meeting next Thursday, results from a combination of two factors which came together at yesterday's monthly meeting of the Motueka Community Board.

The first trigger was a report by Property manager Jim Frater, to be presented to the Community Services committee, that the budgeted $1.1 million allocated for the upgrade will not be enough to do the job properly, and that other options should be explored.

The second was a carefully researched and detailed proposal presented at the meeting by Vision Motueka and local architects for a hub-based library either at Memorial Park or the southern end of Decks Reserve. (See our earlier story.)

In the presentation at the start of the meeting, Vision Motueka chairman David Armstrong summarised the proposal, in particular the choice between the two potential sites and the homework that had gone into what an ideal hub for Motueka would include.

This was followed by a presentation by two Motueka architects Gabrielle Bell and Andrew Stephenson, showing possible concept plans and visuals for each site as well as 3D "fly around" movies.

Comments during and after this presentation clearly indicated a strong preference for a Decks Reserve option due to the potential for some stunning architecture and providing a destination building for visitors, particularly with its viewing platform.

Here are two drawings for the Decks Reserve concept, located roughly where i-Site is now. The first is viewed from Wallace Street and the second from around the middle of the car park, looking south.

Video clip: You can get a more complete picture by viewing this 3D video produced by the architects, posted on YouTube here.

Note that this is only one concept for the hub, and further work could produce changes or other designs. Also, other potential stakeholders such as i-SITE would need to be part of consultations.

Following the presentation, Council's Strategic Development manager Susan Edwards told the Community Board that Jim Frater's report arose from several factors and technical problems, including the inadequate budget for an effective upgrade on the present site, and some further questions over the earthquake capabilities of Memorial Hall.

She said the other main reason was that the work of Vision Motueka has shown there is a need to look at further and broader options for the library in a hub complex, and at alternative sites, so that the job can be done properly and once rather than a makeshift result that would need further work later.

Board member Paul Hawkes said some Motueka people may be frustrated with the library upgrade being deferred for another year, but it would be "worth taking a bit of flak if it gives a better result in the end".

Board member Cliff Satherley said while supporting the decision, he was disappointed that the Community Board has been "ignored for so long" by Council about better sites for the library, until pressure was applied by another group. He said Council has until now "had its head buried in the sand" over alternative site options.

Board chairman David Ogilvie said he had thought Memorial Park was the best place for a hub, but now thinks that the number of problems there means Decks Reserve becomes a much better option.

Board member Mark Chapman expressed excitement about the hub concept, and said this is "finally the chance for Motueka to stand up, show some unity and say what we want. We've made massive inroads into getting Motueka taken seriously, thanks to the work of Vision Motueka."

Part of Jim Frater's recommendation was for $25,000 to be budgeted for site evaluations and investigations related to the hub, but Community Board members said most of this would not be necessary as Vision Motueka has already done much of the work needed to progress, and there was only one site that fitted the bill.

David Ogilvie was concerned that a deferment of the money for another year may lead to continual deferments and eventually nothing being done, and wanted Council to be asked to keep the building project within the 2013 - 2014 plan but with a higher budget of up to $2 million. However other Board members felt this would be unlikely to be accepted by Council, and that it would be better to take the extra year to get it right.

In the end, the Board accepted a three-part recommendation:

  1. That the Board receives the Vision Motueka report and notes subsequent advice at the Board meeting that Decks Reserve is the preferred site.
  2. That the Board ask Council to bring an amount up to $2 million for the hub building on Decks Reserve into the 2013 - 2014 Annual Plan.
  3. As a second preference, that Council defer and ring-fence the current budget of $1.1 million for one year while further investigations are carried out, through a working party with local representation, and that the building of a hub in Decks Reserve be placed on the Long Term Plan scheduled for 2014 - 2015.


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