Asbestos costs blow to hopes

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Work to remove asbestos from the former North Otago Returned and Services Association building is under way, and the future use of the building will be determined by how much the process and any subsequent work will cost.
The discovery of asbestos in the ceiling of the Itchen St building’s lower floor forced its immediate closure in December while remedial work was investigated.
Plans to rent spaces to keep the building occupied while the Waitaki District Council took time to ascertain the state of the overall structure were put on hold after the asbestos was discovered.
The council took over ownership of the building after the dissolution of the North Otago RSA in late 2014.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said a lot of work needed to be done before any tenant could move into the building.
Because of the costs involved, that may mean groups like the Oamaru Toy Library, which had expressed an interest in moving to the building, may miss out.
“We’re looking at the options going forward. “It’s highly likely we will go to a commercial tenant. “We are in discussions with a company that might be able to use that building.
“Usually, they [community groups] can’t afford to pay a lot of rent, but now that the building is going to cost quite a bit more by the time asbestos is out, it’s refurbished and there is possibly strengthening work done, there is going to be a cost we will have to get back on behalf of our ratepayers.
“Unfortunately, that takes those other options away,” Mr Kircher said.
The North Otago Snooker and Billiards Association also used to be a tenant in the building. However, it has since found a home at the Oamaru Club.
Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen said the contractor carrying out the work, Nikau Construction, would have to meet new health and safety practices for the removal of asbestos.