Hauraki District Council prefers a new building for Ngatea’s library, despite public preference to refurbish the old. KELLEY TANTAU reports
Hauraki District Councillors would all prefer Ngatea get a brand new library, when the time comes to build.
The decision goes against the general feeling of the public, who preferred the current library get refurbished, but it could save ratepayers $1m and ensure the longevity of the space.
As part of Long Term Plan discussions back in 2018, options for upgrading library services in Ngatea were considered.
Following extensive feedback from the community, including a petition that was signed by more than 1200 people, council decided the Ngatea Library and Service Centre would stay in the existing council building in Orchard West Rd, near Hugh Hayward Domain.
However, a report presented to council at its June 28 meeting, acknowledged disadvantages to this decision.
Firstly, the option to refurbish the existing building would be more expensive than building a new purpose-built structure based on size alone.
Refurbishing the existing building would also require more investigation to confirm feasibility and project risks.
Starting discussions, Deputy Mayor Paul Milner said the decision was about “old versus new”.
“The old potentially wastes a lot of money for little benefit; there could be asbestos in the ceiling, earthquake standards need meeting, the potential for repiling could be costly…
“The new one would be good for the future, and there would be no wasted spaces, and it would therefore exceed or meet the community’s expectations and I think that’s quite important.”
It was for these reasons that Cr Milner believed a new, purpose-built facility would be the best option.
According to the report, the indicative cost for a new build was $2.5m – $1.2m over council’s available budget for the project.
The cost to refurbish the existing building was $3.5m – $2.2m over budget. The report also noted it only cost $1.68m and $1.57m to build the new Waihi and Paeroa libraries, respectively, but councillors argued the past pricings were irrelevant. The report didn’t state how much it would cost to remove the current building or what would happen to it.
Plains councillor Ray Broad said new was the only option.
Upon talking to the Ngatea community, he said many have told him they’d be comfortable with a new build, so long as it achieved what the current building did.
A concept design which shifted the building so it was facing out onto the domain represented “the new Ngatea and the new Hauraki”, he said.
Mayor Toby Adams said as much as the Ngatea community was passionate about what they may or may not get, in the end, the whole district would be covering the cost.
“We’ve got to be mindful that when the working party is tasked and charged with coming up with what is best for Ngatea, they can figure out what the fairest way is to pay for it.”
New eventually trumped old, with councillors voting unanimously that their preferred option to investigate further was to remove the current Ngatea Library and Service Centre and rebuild a purpose-built facility.