Repairs make stand a liability

The grandstand at A & P Park in Blenheim
The grandstand at A & P Park in Blenheim

The A&P Park grandstand in Blenheim could be demolished because it would cost too much to bring it up to building code standards.

While the 90-year-old building has historic and sentimental value, most people involved seem to be looking for the best outcome for a revamped park without the building.

The Marlborough District Council has allocated $790,000 to upgrade earthquake-prone buildings on council reserves, and staff reported to the council's assets and services committee on its progress so far.

Thirteen buildings are on the list, and two projects - strengthening the gym club and Lansdowne Park grandstand - are underway at a cost of $355,919 and three others were on hold.

The eight others are waiting for more engineering input.

The A&P Park grandstand, closed since December 2011, has an E rating, assessed at only 6 per cent of the current building code.

Engineers have told the council that while they have done a preliminary design to bring the 90-year-old building up to 67 per cent of the building standard, it could be pointless.

"Even if seismic strengthening is carried out, given the age and detailing of the original construction, we would expect that the grandstand would be damaged during a code event and would likely need to be demolished."

A report to the council's assets and services committee said the "significant and expensive strengthening work" which would cost about $424,000, was not considered "sensible".

Instead, it said, the council should consult with the A&P Association, Historic Places trust, and sports users to consider replacement with a new facility.

Committee chairman Terry Sloan said yesterday it was not feasible to try to save it from the council's point of view.

"The final blow hasn't come down yet, but it's looking pretty likely."

Council resources were limited, he agreed, and the grandstand's demolition would enable the site to be revamped, and extra fields to be built as a new sports hub.

"There's always a silver lining to a dirty cloud, so to speak."

Councillors would visit some of the earthquake-prone buildings on council reserves with engineers next week, he said.

A&P Association president Christina Jordan said the council had been working with the association on the grandstand's future and there were a lot of steps to work through.

"I don't have any doubt we will be talking with them.

"We're going to look at all options.

"You've got to put safety first. We can't spend money on things that might not withstand another shake."

The association would liaise with members and the council to get the best decision in the end, she said.

The Marlborough Express