Parish fed up with wait
The St Mary's parish is vowing to return to its church after waiting, unsuccessfully, for five months for an engineering report.
The Christchurch-based Church Property Trustees buildings and property sub-committee closed the 103-year-old church and hall in February after parts of it were found to meet only 10 per cent of the required 33 per cent building code.
The report said the building required significant earthquake strengthening.
However, the church vestry voted on Wednesday last week that if a report was not received by August 10 it would reopen the buildings.
Church warden Barrie Wood said the decision to return to the building was an "expression of frustration". The vestry was told the engineering report would be available at the end of May.
"And of course we are still waiting."
He acknowledged that the trust was under a lot of pressure to produce reports for churches throughout the region. But the parish was anxious to get back into the church.
The vestry engaged local engineers Milward Finlay Lobb to do a seismic assessment of the hall, which showed it was 22 per cent of national building standards. The report said that by removing the parapet at the front it could be improved to closer to 33 per cent.
The report concluded that the building was potentially earthquake-prone. The vestry forwarded the report to the CPT but no decision has been made on what work will be undertaken.
Reverend Indrea Alexander said she understood the desire of the parish to be back in the "beautiful and much loved building".
"But I know CPT also take their safety responsibilities very seriously.
"CPT cannot act until they have the engineers' report and unfortunately I expect recent events, such as the investigation into the CTV building collapse, will mean our engineers will take extra time to ensure they make no mistakes with the repairs and strengthening they propose for St Mary's."
She recognised efforts by the St Mary's Restoration Committee to find an alternative engineer.
"We now have a local seismic assessment of our church hall, but it is unfortunately under CPT's required 33 per cent for occupancy, and remedial work will be needed."
St Mary's suffered "zigzag cracking" in the stonework on both sides of the sanctuary during the September 2010 earthquake, which also caused the bell tower pinnacles to swivel.
They were later removed by crane, along with stone crosses from the roof points.
The CPT did not return calls when contacted yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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