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Library deferral decision angers board members
June 11th, 2014
[by David Armstrong]
Council's decision to yet again defer the Motueka library redevelopment brought emotional and angry criticism from two Community Board members yesterday.
In a late agenda item for discussion only at the June monthly meeting, David Ogilvie outlined the recent history of this project and said it was "almost a betrayal by Council to defer it again", likening it to Motueka being "given the fingers". And Paul Hawkes said the decision "made a mockery of the (annual plan) submission process".
A long-time advocate for decent library facilities in Motueka and a member of the working party that last year evaluated alternative sites for a new or upgraded library, David admitted that he was "emotionally and passionately angry by Council's decision".
The redevelopment of the grossly undersized library was in Council's long-term plan (LTP), and a budget allocated to it based on expanding the current library on its Memorial Park site, including the removal of the Senior Citizens building.
Last year the work was deferred when it was realised that the present site was unsuitable for several reasons including lack of car parking, the land being leasehold, and a totally inadequate budget. Shortly after it was also slated as being well below even basic standards for earthquake safety.
In a decision early in 2013 deferring the project from the 2013-14 year, Council instead set up the working party to do the planning job properly, telling many people involved that this would lead to a better result in 2014-15.
David said the working party unanimously agreed that a library would be better located as a new building on Wallace Street, beside the i-Site building, and co-located with a new Council service centre, whose present site would be sold to raise money.
"I even sat here with the Mayor, in this room, where he thanked us for all our good work, and said funding was not a big issue," David said. "I ask, what's gone wrong here?"
He gave figures to show that the Motueka library is less than half the size used as a standard for communities of Motueka's size, and it was only 28% of building standard for earthquakes, when public buildings had to be at least between 34% and 66%.
"I know one thing: if Richmond had a library that was under half size and 28% of building code, a new one would be built, no question."
In a hushed meeting, he was also critical of the three ward councillors who he said "didn't do more to support it".
"We've been through the whole bloody process, yet again, and have been given the fingers," he concluded.
Community Board chairman Paul Hawkes said he was not so emotional about it but was nevertheless "angry". He pointed out that the library issue received the second-most number of all the annual plan submissions, 54, with "53 for a new library and just one against".
"The negation of this by Council made a mockery of the submission process," he said.
After the meeting councillor Peter Canton, who believes libraries are "wants rather than needs", told Motueka Online that ward councillors and other sympathetic councillors will work hard to get a new library put back into the long-term plan for work to begin on it in the following financial year.
He said that at least there won't be money spent wastefully on further patching up the existing old library, making for a better result in the long term. He wants work to be focused on a new library as part of a community hub in Decks Reserve.
Those advocating for a new library would say that they've heard that one before.
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