Bluff service centre to be strengthened

The Invercargill City Council will pump money into strengthening the Bluff service centre instead of buying a new property.

The decision, made in the public-excluded part of the city council meeting this week, will mean the council will foot the bill for upgrading the building to 67 per cent of the building code.

The Bluff service centre closed in a rush in November when it failed to meet even 10 per cent of the building code.

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King said the council had deliberated on what to do, but eventually voted in favour of strengthening the building because it proved to be the most cost-effective option.

Originally, the council was favouring the option of buying a new building, but that option proved to cost "in excess of $450,000," he said.

He would not be drawn on cost estimates to upgrade the service centre because the work would now go out for tender.

"Basically, that seemed to be the best cost option for council."

The council would have also had to pay for the buildings they were considering to bring them up to standard, he said. If they had chosen an alternative building, the below-standard service centre would have to be demolished, which would have added to the cost.

Bluff Community Board chairman Raymond Fife said while the decision was disappointing because Bluff would not have a new building, he understood it was the council's decision.

"It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest," Mr Fife said.

"We knew the building they were looking at needed to be strengthened as well."

He had some concerns about the decision, including what would happen when the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival demolished the building attached to the service centre, leaving a bare brick wall.

"It's unforeseen until we take it down."

Mr King said the council-owned building was already wired and set up for the service centre, and refurbishing a different building would be costly.

The council was moving quickly on the work and hoped to move staff back into the building as soon as possible, he said. The decision would not affect rates.

The Southland Times