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Library feasibility study brought forward

May 26th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

Persistence and strong advocacy by Motueka Councillors and the community has led to TDC advancing a feasibility study for a new library into the 2017/18 Annual Plan.

Originally marked down in the Long Term Plan for commencement in the 2019/20 financial year, Councillors and TDC staff have been urged for more than a year to bring it forward so that Motueka could get a clear idea of what lies ahead.

The Annual Plan for the 2017/18 financial year was approved at a Council meeting yesterday, and it included the provision of up to $50,000 from this year's surplus to fund an independent feasibility study on an improved library facility for Motueka.

Although the terms of reference have not been decided, Councillors said it will focus on two aspects: first, if Motueka does need a larger library facility; and second, if it should be an extension of the existing library or a brand new library.

Although not set in writing, Councillors and TDC staff say that the only sensible location for a new library would be on Wallace Street beside the i-Site building. Several other options were looked at and rejected in a less formal study by Council staff over three years ago.

In a Council press release last May, Mayor Richard Kempthorne conceded that while saving money was the top priority for Council, resident feedback wanting a better library service meant "we are going to look at providing $150,000 in year one of the draft Long Term Plan 2018-2028 budget [that is, the 2018/19 year] for a feasibility study into a new library for Motueka."

This was as a result of passionate pleas put in public meetings in the preceding months by Vision Motueka, the Motueka Community Board, a number of concerned individuals and Councillor Peter Canton.

With three Ward Councillors all elected last October on a platform including a new library as a top priority, and expressing frustration over continual deferrals of action on the library, the feasibility study has now been put forward yet another year.

Reasons given by Councillors Peter Canton, David Ogilvie and Paul Hawkes for faster action include the need for clarity as soon as possible over the much-loved Laura Ingram Kindergarten, the ability to go to National funding agencies for extra money to create a new community facility with the future of the library known, and generally placating a large number of increasingly annoyed library users.

A significantly upgraded library for Motueka has been in Council's Long Term Plan for about a decade but has been deferred twice, out into the early 2020s. Vision Motueka came up with an alternative plan as part of a proposal for a community hub in Decks Reserve in late 2012, which they presented to Council in March 2013.

If the feasibility study costs more than $50,000, there is provision for up to a $25,000 top up from Motueka's share of the Reserves Financial Contributions fund.

Presuming that the study agrees with all current Councillors that Motueka needs a new or at least much larger and more modern library, the main issue will be over its location.

An extension to the existing library in Pah Street may be the less expensive option but has the disadvantages of being on leasehold land, and almost certainly needing to have the Senior Citizens Hall subsumed into the library and the Laura Ingram Kindergarten bowled for car parking and built elsewhere, at unknown cost.

It would also mean yet another patch-up job for a building that has been added to several times over many decades.

A new facility on the edge of Decks Reserve beside the i-Site may, though not necessarily, cost more but would enable a building fit for purpose, and a new vision for making that area more of a civic centre with attached visitor services, directly beside the underused Decks Reserve space.

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