Green light for work to strengthen library

The Marlborough District Library in Blenheim is to get almost a half-million dollar upgrade to strengthen the building and replace its roof.

The Marlborough District Council's community and finance committee passed at a meeting yesterday a recommendation to struc turally strengthen the Blenheim library and replace its roof.

The upstairs children's section of the library was likely to be relocated to another building in central Blenheim while the work was being done.

Council support services manager Dean Heiford said a proposal to move the library to a new site could be up to three years away.

Strengthening the building now might make it easier to sell in the future, he said. "If we put this money into the building now, we may be able to recoup it later when we sell it."

Money for the earthquake strengthening would come from the Emergency Events Reserve fund. A lot of work was required before the process could begin, including a detailed engineering report, Heiford said.

The biggest risk was the brick cladding on the second floor, and work needed to be done to it immediately. During the Canterbury earthquakes, it was the cladding that fell off and hit people, he said.

Committee chairman John Leggett said it was logical to do the repairs because it was a highly used, council-owned building.

"I don't think it's money being thrown into a deep hole," he said.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the danger to the public outweighed the cost.

"I suggest we do it immediately," he said.

The brick facade and roof needed to be done first, while work on the lift to bring it up to new compliance standards and strengthening the columns could be done later.

A report by the council's property manager, APL Property, recommended spending $337,000 to bring the building up to 67 per cent of the national building standard, and another $162,000 to replace the roof on the section of the building built in 1986.

The building was above the legal trigger for earthquake remedial work, but the council wanted to provide safe public buildings.

The original building, on the corner of Seymour and Arthur streets, was built in 1965 and is a two-storey reinforced concrete building with a lightweight constructed roof.

It was converted to a library in 1986, and two bays of steel cross bracing were added to the building to enhance seismic resistance, and a single-storey addition was built on the eastern side. The two buildings are structurally independent, with no seismic gap evident, the APL Property report says.

The building has been assessed at 35 per cent of the building standard, above the 33 per cent trigger point at which action has to be taken.

The Marlborough Express