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Family dismayed at pool's demise

Margaret Mahy playground to replace pool

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014
Centennial Pool demolition
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ

COMING DOWN: Demolition of the Centennial Pool complex gets under way to clear the site for the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.

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The daughter of New Zealand children's author Margaret Mahy is "disappointed" that Centennial Pool is being demolished to make way for an inner-city playground named after her late mother.

The damaged pool complex was closed after the February 2011 earthquake and the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) controversially purchased it from the Christchurch City Council to form part of the city's recovery blueprint plan. Demolition started yesterday and is expected to take about eight weeks.

Penny Mahy said the family did not know that the creation of the Margaret Mahy Family Playground meant the pool would be demolished.

"I think it's quite a shame to lose the pool and it's made us a bit uneasy."

The family was "very happy" when asked by recovery officials if the new playground could be named after Margaret Mahy.

"But we didn't realise at the time that they would be pulling down the pool in order to do that," Penny Mahy said.

The council later looked at keeping the centre after a group of residents campaigned to save it, but Mayor Lianne Dalziel said it was bound by the cost-sharing agreement with the Crown.

Penny Mahy said that when she and her and husband lived in Armagh St, they would regularly take their children to Centennial Pool. Her mother had also enjoyed visiting the pool with her grandchildren.

"We would have liked it to be restored . . . . it was a much-loved facility and they're pulling it down to create an expensive playground. It sometimes seems like it's big projects over the community-sized projects."

She agreed that the new playground would be a valuable community facility once complete. Construction is expected to begin this year at a cost of about $20 million.

Signs went up on fences around the pool complex yesterday to mark its demise, including one featuring a sad face and the words "sad to see Centennial Pool go, going, gone".

CCDU director Warwick Isaacs said it had consulted the Mahy family on the playground and its design. He did not say whether or not he was aware of the family's concerns about Centennial Pool.

Both pools at the centre were badly damaged and the planned Metro Sports Facility would replace Centennial Pool, he said.

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