Iconic grandstand facing the chop

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 19/12/2012

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A Sanson "icon" will vanish from the landscape when the town's 90-year-old grandstand is demolished in response to findings that it would cost up to half a million dollars to repair.

Many in the small Manawatu community fought hard to save it, but the old rugby grandstand, which sits on the Sanson Domain, has seen better days.

Manawatu District Council-contracted structural engineers found the grandstand in a sorry state, leaking and with structural issues including cracked foundations, worn roofing, broken drainage, cladding damage, a crumbling staircase, missing seating and an interior "thoroughly" ravaged by vandals.

Sanson Community Committee member Delphine Parker said the loss of the landmark would be a sad day for the town.

But the cost of repair was too high and ratepayers could not be expected to foot the bill, Mrs Parker said.

"I feel very sad about it," she said.

"When you're coming into Sanson from the south you see the grandstand there and you go, ‘oh, nearly home'.

"It has been an icon and it is strange to think it is not going to be there any more." The grandstand was identified as a safety issue earlier this year during the council's Long Term Plan submissions process.

The community was asked whether it wished to repair or demolish the structure, and the council then spent $5000 on strengthening work and engaged engineers to estimate the reconstruction costs.

The consultants found it was much cheaper to demolish the grandstand at an estimated cost of $26,000, whereas saving it would cost $465,000, with about $375,000 of that going toward rebuilding the structure.

It was also found that continuing to use the grandstand as a billboard could pose liability issues.

Councillor Barbara Cameron said it came to down to cost. "Common sense has to prevail in the end . . . from an economic point of view it is too expensive to replace," she said.

The call to demolish seemed fair as $500,000 was too big a cost for the district's ratepayers, Mrs Parker said.

"I'm a bit of a realist and I realise there is simply no chance to save it, not as we would like to save it. But it seems like the council is not prepared to put ratepayer money into rebuilding it."

The recommendation for demolition will be rubber-stamped at a council meeting tomorrow.

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- Manawatu Standard

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