Safety first as New Hub closes doors
The building that houses Nelson's youth centre is the latest casualty of the council's building review process, with the trust behind the decision to permanently close the New Hub's doors making no apologies for its "safety first" approach.
The council-owned New Hub headquarters on New St has closed for good, based on a preliminary rating that deems it at risk of suffering damage in an earthquake.
Nelson City Council is reviewing all council-owned buildings as part of its earthquake-prone, dangerous and insanitary building policy, which has been given higher priority since the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.
NCC network services executive manager Alec Louverdis said last night's earthquake, that shook New Zealand from Bay of Plenty to Canterbury, put things in perspective.
"It's quite strange that we're talking about these things and then we go and have one. It just shows you that things like this can happen when you least expect them," he said.
Stephen Stiles, the manager of the youth centre, said the Youth and Community Facility Trust made its decision to cease operating out of the New Hub building after meeting with the council about a week and a half ago.
"The council gave us the facts and the trust's final decision was that it had to be safety first. We're moving our services offsite. I'm just working on the final steps of a temporary solution for our staff," he said.
Mr Stiles said the 15 to 20 community groups who used the New Hub for various reasons would have to move out, but they could use the building on a week-by-week basis until they found other places to go.
Youth Transition Services was also in the process of looking for an alternative central site to work out of.
Mr Louverdis said the New Hub trust had the final say on ceasing operations there or carrying on, as its rating was based on an initial assessment of the building only.
It had not been issued with an official regulatory notice, like some other council-owned buildings.
The council had commissioned a detailed assessment and the results were due in mid to late-August.
The council announced last week that it would force the closure of two other buildings – one that houses Prego Mediterranean Foods on Halifax St and the unoccupied State Advances Building next to Civic House – as well as the Riverside Pool frontage.
The buildings and pool frontage have been deemed earthquake-risks and issued with official regulatory notices, after failing to reach the 33 per cent rating needed to achieve an acceptable building standard.
However, it has now emerged that the building that houses Prego Mediterranean Foods has had only a preliminary assessment, unlike the other two.
Mr Louverdis met with Prego Mediterranean Foods owner Peter McNairney last night, who has been told he can continue to operate there at least until the results of a detailed assessment are received at the end of August.
Mr Louverdis said talks had also begun around finding alternative access to the Riverside Pool.
"It's not something that can just happen overnight."
Mr Louverdis said the list of council-owned buildings with earthquake ratings would grow as further preliminary and detailed assessments were carried out. The council had set aside $200,000 in the first financial year of its long-term plan to pay for assessments.
"The councillors will ultimately be the sole decision makers in terms of what they do to all these earthquake-risk and earthquake-prone buildings, but they need to have all the information in front of them and we're still working through that process," he said.
"We're going to be working through initial assessments of all council-owned buildings followed by detailed assessments and those are going to run out over the next one, two, three years."
Mr Louverdis said councillors might choose to wait until all the information was in and decide what to do then, as opposed to following a piecemeal approach – building by building.
"They need to have a holistic approach in terms of what they're going to be doing, because ultimately they won't know what the final cost of strengthening and or demolition is until they get all the assessments in."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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