Library cafe job delayed

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014
fairlie old library cafe
NATASHA MARTIN/ Fairfax NZ
FIRE DAMAGE: The Mackenzie District Council should know the fate of the Old Library Cafe building soon.

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The long wait for the rebuild of the Old Library Cafe in Fairlie just got that bit longer.

The Mackenzie District Council-owned building was badly damaged by fire in October 2011, wrecking much of the interior and most of the exterior.

It decided to repair the building, registered as category 2 with the Historic Places Trust, after consultation with the Fairlie community.

However, chief executive Wayne Barnett said the council needed a specialist heritage engineer to complete the detailed design to repair the building within budget.

"There are only a small number of engineers with these skills. High demand following the Christchurch earthquakes means they are having to juggle projects," he said.

"Unfortunately there are some other projects that are rightly more important than ours. This has resulted in a two month delay in the process."

The original plan was for the council to call for construction tenders in February, but this will now take place in April.

"I share the community's frustration at the lack of progress. We are negotiating our way through a complex process in a difficult environment. It has been a long path but I'm hoping for smoother progress," Mr Barnett said.

Fairlie Community Board chairman Owen Hunter said he was "hugely frustrated".

"There's nothing we can do but wait. I don't think we're going to get that many tenders to do the job either. I sympathise with the community, and the fact they wanted the building repaired, but right now it's sitting there and doing nothing," Mr Hunter said.

"In retrospect, they would have been better off replacing the building.

"We could have had something there by now."

Mr Barnett hoped the tenders would come within budget so work could start immediately on the building.

Last year, an independent assessment provided to the council suggested repairing the building could cost about $588,000.

The building is insured to the value of $686,000.

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- The Timaru Herald

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