Public loo project calls for volunteers
A Nelson City Council-led project to revamp the Buxton Square car park toilets begins this Labour Weekend, and the call has gone out for more volunteers to help with building, plumbing and electrical work in particular.
The public toilets will close from this Saturday through until late November while the transformation takes place.
One of the project's key drivers, councillor Kate Fulton, said the project already had many qualified people including landscape designers, interior designers, qualified builders, mural artists and ceramic artists devoting their time and energy to the planning.
Lee Woodman, who has volunteered to be the building co-ordinator for the project, said it still needed people to help with hands-on mural painting, landscaping and block laying.
"We also require help on-site from those with some knowledge of the building industry, including strapping and lining concrete block, decking and outdoor structures and concrete laying, concrete cutting and concrete polishing.
"We need help for plumbing and drainage, electrical alterations, and fitting of utilities," Mr Woodman said.
Unskilled labour was also needed for the demolition of the existing interior.
A concept plan for the $75,000 project was drafted by Australia-based Creative Communities director David Engwicht, who was commissioned to oversee the project after the council considered the original plan was too costly.
The council said in June that it was looking for an alternative approach and was aiming for a "creative and different public toilet".
The plan raised questions about whether it might challenge prescribed building processes, but council chief executive Clare Hadley said at the time the project would not compromise the council's building standards.
The council agreed last year that safety issues with the toilets were a particular concern, and stipulated that all work undertaken had to comply with building regulations and tackle crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) criteria.
A community planning day in August attracted about 40 volunteers throughout the day who contributed to the final plan.
Ms Fulton said a request from a young boy for "more Lego" led the thinking on how it might look.
"We looked at the existing architecture and realised it was very much like a Lego-block structure. From there our theme around contemplation and imagination grew."
They would figure out how to complete the project if tradespeople did not turn up to volunteer their time, she said. "I'm sure people will come and if they don't we will just have to pay people."
The council agreed to upgrade the toilet block for $75,000 which included Mr Engwicht's fee of $9750, after assessing the earlier $330,000-plus option as too expensive. It had already spent $40,000 on an architecturally designed upgrade proposal.
Ms Fulton said one of the reasons for conducting a community-led project was in response to the public's constant call for the council to decrease rates. She said people volunteered all the time to a range of sporting and recreation projects, and artists frequently donated their time.
Ms Fulton said volunteers working on the toilet project were not contributing to a council project as much as to their CBD.
"It is as simple as turning up anytime from Saturday onward, and fitting in where your skills allow," she said.
Other public toilets will be available at Montgomery Square and 1903 Square.
- © Fairfax NZ News