The new Birkenhead library could cost more than $9 million due to delays.
The library building and Civic Centre look set to be built on Nell Fisher Reserve by late 2009, with initial designs boasting 250 square metres of more floorspace than the old Birkenhead library.
North Shore City Council community services and parks committee members were surprised to hear the initial estimated building costs have increased to $9.5m. The original budget set in 2004-05 was $7.3m.
Committee chairman Tony Holman says the increased cost is a concern.
“Construction costs have gone up so much since the original plan, but we’ll have to find the extra money,” says Mr Holman.
“The additional cost won’t be carried by ratepayers though. We are looking at re-allocating funds from other projects.”
But councillor Margaret Miles says the full council hasn’t discussed this.
“That wasn’t discussed at the meeting. I understand some councillors are campaigning for lower rates but this is something the whole council has to look at.
“There has to be a discussion with the whole council,” she says.
She says if funds are re-allocated then other projects will be deferred or won’t happen, so there is still the potential that the increase will affect rates.
A governance and advisory group has been set up to monitor the project and make recommendations to the community services and parks committee.
The group consists of Mr Holman, councillors Joy Brett, Grant Gillon, Ann Hartley, Chris Darby, community services general manager Lorretta Burnett and two Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board members.
Mr Holman says the group is needed to make sure there are no more unnecessary problems or delays.
“If we get things wrong again I would hate to think of the consequences.”
The project has already been an embarrassment to the council.
It suffered long delays because the old library was demolished in 2005 before resource consent was secured to build the new library.
Hearing commissioners then turned down the consent application and the council was forced to reapply.
Further delays were caused when the owners of the Rawene Chambers building, opposite Nell Fisher Reserve, lodged an appeal in the Environment Court.
That court finally gave the project the go-ahead earlier this year.
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times