Library staircase preservation costs studied

Palmerston North City Library archivist Lesly Courtney checks the staircase that is out of bounds to the public. ...

Palmerston North City Library archivist Lesly Courtney checks the staircase that is out of bounds to the public. Investigations have been requested to see if it can be preserved.

Palmerston North Library's heritage staircase is being considered for preservation and re-opening.

A study on how much it would cost to strengthen and restore the former department store stairs has been requested by the city council's finance and performance committee.

But the $30,000 to $40,000 estimate for investigating whether it could be incorporated into the Library of the Future redevelopment plans contributed to a less-than-unanimous vote.

Cr Vaughan Dennison called for the report after an informal discussion between councillors and staff late in 2016 about finding out whether the staircase with the rosewood hand rails could be restored.

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City library and community services general manager Debbie Duncan said the investigation would be costly as it would involve an architect, quantity surveyor and consultant on crime prevention through environmental design.

Dennison said in the context of a $5.2 million upgrade of the library, the cost was reasonable, and then councillors would be able to decide if the full project was affordable.

Cr Jim Jefferies said he was quite surprised to find there was such a "heritage asset" in the building, and it was a shame to have it hidden away.

Mayor Grant Smith also supported the effort.

He said Palmerston North did not have a lot of heritage, and the council should consider preserving what it could.

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Whether the council went ahead with preservation would be weighed up against other priorities when reviewing the Long Term Plan next year.

Councillors Aleisha Rutherford, Lorna Johnson and Tangi Utikere voted against the report.

Rutherford said the expense of the investigation was unnecessary, and she was concerned it could distract from the library redevelopment project.

Historic Places Manawatu-Horowhenua chairwoman Cindy Lilburn said she was pleased the council was considering restoration.

"It will help to enhance the historic features that have been preserved in the library from the original Rosco's building."

 - Stuff


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