Likely closure of Opawa Toy Library 'huge blow'
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Opawa Toy Library volunteers will begin moving more than 2500 toys into storage this weekend after being told the building may need to be shut down.
A Christchurch City Council detailed engineering evaluation has found the library's Sandwich Rd building is below 34 per cent of the new building standard.
Library president Bryan Pratt said the potential closure was a ''huge blow'' for the service, which provided toys for more than 900 children.
''It's a very popular service for families all over Christchurch and a big setback,'' he said.
''We really didn't want to close. There's now a massive amount of work to do, but we want to reopen.''
The library will begin shifting out of the building on Sunday and put the toys into storage until new premises are found.
Pratt said that had been proving difficult.
''As a community organisation, we don't have the funds for a commercial lease,'' he said.
''What we're looking at right now is renting a three-bedroom home, where the rent is cheaper, but then there are issues of insurance.''
The potential closure of the building did not come as a surprise to Pratt, despite it still being in a ''good condition'' after the earthquakes.
''We knew it was old, and the new building code is very strict even though the building only had cosmetic damage after the quakes,'' he said.
''We were expecting this outcome, but it doesn't make it any easier.''
It has been a long two years for the volunteers. They were forced to move out of Sandwich Rd after the September 2010 quake, but their new premises in Sydenham were red-stickered in February 2011.
In May 2011 they moved back into the Sandwich Rd building, but had to close for two weeks in June while more inspections took place.
The stress had been taking its toll, Pratt said.
''A lot of the volunteers here are dealing with their own repairs or red-zoning on their house, as well as our normal day jobs and busy lives. It's been tough,'' he said.
The council had told Pratt that it may be two or three years before they knew when, or if, the building would be repaired.
''We understand they have a lot of buildings and that a toy library won't necessarily be at the top of the list. The council have actually been fantastic in keeping us updated and giving us warning,'' he said.
It was a second hit for the community as the Christchurch South Library was recently closed by the council.
''Two valuable community services have been lost. At the end of the day, this shows that even two years after the earthquakes they're still affecting the area and causing difficulties,'' Pratt said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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