Quake woes limit hall to 150 people

Last updated 14:21 14/08/2014

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The doors of the Taumarunui Memorial Hall will be barred to groups of more than 150 people because of fears over its earthquake strength.

Ruapehu District ratepayers will have to decide whether to demolish the hall or face a potentially large bill to bring it up to standard.

Ruapehu District Council community services group manager Margaret Hawthorne said the council would seek public submissions during Long Term Plan 2015-25 consultation on whether to bolster the hall to meet new earthquake compliance standards or demolish it.

"Taumarunui Memorial Hall has been assessed as only being at approximately 18 per cent of current building code requirements and so is an earthquake prone building," she said.

"Legislation passed after the Christchurch earthquakes requires any building with a seismic assessment of less than 33 per cent of the current code requirements to be strengthened or demolished within the next 15 years."

Hawthorne said the council has also commissioned a more-detailed engineering assessment, including the estimated cost of strengthening the hall to meet the new standards.

"Due to the high number of people who potentially use the memorial hall at any one time, and that it is Taumarunui's designated welfare centre for civil defence, any strengthening work would need to be a minimum of 100 per cent of the new building earthquake compliance standards.

"The cost of strengthening the hall to 100 per cent is estimated to be between $30,000 and $425,000."

Other issues besides cost that need to be taken into account are the hall's history, its relatively low use, potential alternative venues if it is demolished and its war memorial aspect.

Hawthorne said there were other venues in town that could compensate for the loss of the hall.

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- Waikato Times

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