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Library seeks new temporary home

THE search is on for a temporary home for the city’s public library, which will need to be closed while the $5.6 million extension is being constructed.

Planning and development group manager Nedine Thatcher-Swann told the Future Tairawhiti committee that the library might have to be close for as long as ten months to allow the building to go ahead.

The mezzanine floor had become bowed because of the weight of books on it and will need work.

The council had looked at a number of empty shops and empty buildings, and the committee was told that the search had centred on a number of vacant building and sites in the central business district.

A building consent had been lodged and the tender documents had been issued to three parties. Tenders closed on August 8.

Total funds available for the project stood at $5.5 million plus $280,000 in interest received from the legacies granted towards the cost so they were close to the funding target.

The funding consisted of $1.8 million in bequests, a $1.75 million council contribution, $1 million from Williams Trusts, $860,000 from the Eastland Community Trust and $180,000 from the Eastern and Central Community Trust.

The library was not likely to be moved before September subject to discussions with the steering group. Chief executive Judy Campbell said that the project had been delayed because of the discussion on the expressions of interest for the building. The council held an emergency meeting over this. This meant the library extensions would not be available in time for its 50th anniversary next year.

Mrs Campbell said there had been some comments about the loss of the parking area facing Bright Street but that area was designated as library land under a land swap that occurred with the Crown for the old post office and was not meant to be used as a car park.

The public had the bonus of being able to use it in the meantime for a number of years. The challenge she had given to the team was to make the move as short as possible and for as little as possible. There was a cost benefit in that if the builders were given an open site with no constrictions they would be able to do the contract more quickly and more cheaply.

Committee members said they did not want the library to be completely closed for the work. Mrs Campbell said the maximum time for the temporary closure would be 10 months.

Roger Haisman said the final decision should be left for the new council but Mrs Campbell said this project had a ten-year life and the council had approved it time and time again.

The final decision on the tenderer was a “business as usual” one and could be made by this council.

Mayor Meng Foon said the sculpture of Wal and Dog would be at the library and the family of artist Murray Ball had a significant collection of writing, pictures and memorabilia. There could be a section in the library for that.

Artist’s impression of how the HB Williams Memorial Library will look after the extension and Wal and the Dog move from their present site on the riverbank. Picture supplied