Facilities up for discussion

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Waitaki District Council councillors will discuss what shape council’s Cultural Facilities Redevelopment Project will take at its meeting on Wednesday.

A business case has recommended that a redevelopment project for the North Otago Museum, Forrester Gallery and archive collection be included in council’s draft 2015-25 long-term plan consultation document.

Councillors will decide the exact amount to be spent on the project, which will come from council and grant funding, and the shape it will take, with three options to be considered.

About six years ago, plans to add a new building and lift at the rear of Forrester Gallery, to be followed by an upgrade of the archive, museum and library, were discussed.

The cost was estimated to be more than $13 million, with council planning to source outside funding to cover the bulk of the cost.

The plan, as well as a design, were made public as part of the 2009 long-term plan and received mixed feedback.

As a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, funding options were affected and the council was forced to rethink its original plans.

It looked at the cost, original design, what it was spending on the gallery and museum buildings and what costs were associated with earthquake strengthening work.

e council decided a combined gallery and museum would be most cost-effective and added the plan to its 2012 long-term plan, which, like the council’s original plan, received mixed feedback from the public.

In June, the council confirmed the need to upgrade the facilities and that the project should be included in the 2015-25 long-term plan.

It resolved that the council’s contribution to capital costs would be $1.5 million, the gallery and museum be combined on the gallery site, the storage of the gallery, museum and archive collection be at the museum site if cost-effective, and the redevelopment should aim to generate 50% of operation costs.

However, plans now involve storage to be at the gallery site, while the cost recovery figure has been altered to 20%, achieved over 10 years.

The first of the three options councillors will consider is to carry out minimum earthquake strengthening on the existing North Otago Museum site at a cost of $300,000.

The second option is to redevelop the museum and gallery on the gallery site and have the archive collection and storage at the museum site at a cost of $8 million.

The third and preferred option is to combine the museum, gallery, archive and storage area at the gallery site at a cost of $4.5 million.

According to a preliminary time frame prepared by the council, the project would be fully approved in six months from November and funding secured in 24 months from June 2015.

The initial design and construction process would take 34 months from November this year onwards.

By Daniel Birchfield