Nelson mayor seeks to put $46m library project on hold

1:58 pm on 8 November 2022

Nelson City Council's concept plans for a riverside library project. File photo. Photo:

Nelson's new mayor wants to see the city's contentious $46 million riverside library project put on hold as the council faces a number of financial pressures.

Mayor Nick Smith said no more money should be spent on further design and engineering studies for the new development as there isn't room to finance the project.

He plans to put that proposal to the Nelson City Council at his first meeting as mayor this Thursday.

Smith said households and businesses were also facing financial pressure from the highest inflation rate in 40 years and the sharp increase in interest rates makes the library project unaffordable in the current climate.

The council is also facing a repair bill of up to $60m dollars after the August floods.

While the council would be working with government and its insurance companies to recover some of this, a "sizeable part of the cost" would fall on the ratepayer, Smith said.

The new library site on the banks of the Maitai River with Nelson City Council's Civic House behind it

Nelson City Council's new library site on the banks of the Maitai River. File photo. Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Nelson residents remain without full library services after it was revealed the ceiling tiles in the Elma Turner Library posed an earthquake risk and the building was closed in June.

It was partially re-opened the following month after some strengthening work was completed.

Smith said rectifying that safety issue was a main priority so the Elma Turner Library could return to full service and was proposing a Library Reopening Taskforce be established to urgently progress that work.

Once the final Structural Detailed Seismic Assessment was received for the library, the taskforce would be able to make decisions about its future.

"The council will need to review its capital programme of works over the next decade through the Annual Plan process next year, and needs to have a longer-term discussion about the future of the current central city facility."

Smith said the options included maintaining the current facility or developing a more modest new library.

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