Combined cultural centre a step closer

SHARE

A facility that would combine the North Otago Museum, Forrester Gallery and archive collection is one step closer to becoming reality.

At its meeting yesterday, the council recommended to include the Cultural Facilities Redevelopment Project into the Draft 2015-25 Long Term Plan.

Councillors considered three options to be added to the long term plan, with the first to do minimum earthquake strengthening work at the existing museum site at a cost of $300,000.

The second was to redevelop the museum and gallery on the current gallery site and have the archive collection and storage at the existing museum site which would cost $8 million.

The third and recommended option, which will be included in the draft plan after being adopted by council, was to combine the museum, gallery, archive and storage site at the Forrester Gallery site at a cost of $4.5 million.

The council also recommended that it contribute $1.5 million as an internal loan to the cost of the project, with the remainder to come from external funding, and that 20% of the operational cost be recovered over a period of 10 years, starting at the completion of the project.

On the subject of cost recovery, Councillor Melanie Tavendale said if the council wasn’t sure that could happen then it wouldn’t be in its best interests to proceed.

“If we can’t make this happen and get our figures working in relation to that . . . it’s not worth doing.”

Cr Colin Wollstein had concerns about where funding would come from if external funding could not be found.

He was assured by Mayor Gary Kircher the council would not put any more money into the project than had already been committed.

Cr Tavendale said aside from her reservations around cost recovery, she was delighted to see the project one step closer.

“We have the ability to make this a fantastic project in the heart of our town . . . I would love to see the community on board.”

Mr Kircher said the project was first mooted about six years ago, but there was more work to do to see it come to fruition.

“It’s been a long road getting to where we are. But the test will be getting the external funding. We will have to spend some money to get to that stage.”

The council’s long term plan is set to go out for public consultation on March 23.

By Daniel Birchfield