Stadium may be knocked down
A planned upgrade of the Trafalgar Centre is on hold and the new city council will have to decide whether to quake-strengthen Nelson's main indoor venue or pull it down.
Nelson city councillors yesterday agreed that none of the money allocated to the centre's upgrade will be spent until further notice, after discussing what councillor Gail Collingwood said was "the most depressing report" she had dealt with.
Part of the $3 million set aside in this year's annual plan for improvements to the building, including a new kitchen and toilets and the planned upgrade to the building's northern end, would instead be used to fund an investigation into options for the building's future.
Staff said, in answer to a question from Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk, that demolishing the building might be one of the options.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said in the meantime the centre would remain open, subject to any decision on safety from the Building Consent Authority, which is to prepare a report.
Bookings will continue to be taken, if users were happy to proceed once they knew the status of the building, Mr Miccio said.
The Fico Finance Nelson Giants basketball team, based there for home games for more than three decades, said the loss of the venue would "leave them in the poop".
Giants director Steve Fitchett said today the uncertainty over the venue's future was a concern, but they would roll on with their plans.
"We are organising for next season, because we have to.
"It's a nightmare long term for all concerned," Mr Fitchett said.
He said Saxton Field was possibly the only feasible option for a replacement events venue.
The report on the Trafalgar Centre's future, received by councillors yesterday, outlined possible earthquake strengthening requirements and potential for liquefaction at the site.
The first step in the investigation will be a peer review of all the assessments done on the building to date.
All information on the building will also be passed to the authority.
A report on the options will come back to the council in the new term.
Alec Louverdis, city council executive manager of network services, said in the report that there was a need to identify what risks there might be to people in the building during a moderate earthquake.
"The value of the Trafalgar Centre to Nelson as an entertainment venue is so significant that a decision should only be made when the council is in possession of the facts."
Mr Louverdis said information would be sought from the original engineering assessors as well as the peer review.
Councillor Eric Davy said the prospects for the centre "put a lump in your throat", but Mr Louverdis suggested councillors take a deep breath and wait for the outcome of the review.
Councillor Rachel Reese asked how it was that a detailed assessment had not been done previously, given the centre's status as a public venue.
Chief executive Clare Hadley said different classes of building had a different priority attached to them.
Mrs Collingwood asked if the building could be located elsewhere on the Rutherford Park complex. Mr Louverdis said it was possible with the right engineering but liquefaction in the event of a big earthquake remained a possibility.
Mrs Collingwood said it was with sadness that she moved the recommendation to receive the report.
"I have been harping on for years to get the work done, on areas that are pathetic, such as the toilets.
"The scope of centre will be severely limited," she said.
Ms Reese said the report showed the need for good advice to make decisions.
"This is not the only large building we have in which we deliver services. We have to think about whether it's not just Trafalgar Centre, because we have set aside money in the Long Term Plan without information to make critical decisions.
Mrs Boswijk believed issues around the centre had been made a priority.
"It's frustrating and annoying but we need to know it's safe and delivering to its potential.
"It's an iterative process and will continue to be," she said.
The council also decided the emergency designation of the Trafalgar Centre will change so it is not used as a post-earthquake evacuation centre, but could still be used in a flooding or pandemic event if needed.
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