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Council’s Central Library Decision Backward-looking

Today’s decision to strengthen rather than rebuild the Central Library is a missed opportunity to redevelop Civic Square, the heart of Wellington says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

"Wellington City Council ought to have considered all the opportunities and think big with the available space," says John Milford, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

"Instead of taking the opportunity to write a new chapter, councillors have been timid and picked the most expensive option to simply maintain the status quo. If a business, in the current COVID-uncertain environment, had made this decision to rebuild even though it was the most expensive option, for the same outcome with the biggest price tag… well they simply wouldn’t.

"Given the considerable price tag of Option C, the Council ought to consider all funding options to lessen the financial impact on the ratepayer. A sale and lease option should also be considered given there is already strong interest from local property developers to work with Council. It appears this was not included.

"Further, simply fixing to have what is effectively the status quo, fails to acknowledge in a current COVID-uncertain environment whether the current plans are even fit-for-purpose.

"While the former Central City Library is beloved and remembered fondly for providing this kind of space, the Chamber believes the current problems were a massive opportunity to refocus the space.

"There are several other questions we want answer to; how will the space would operate in a current or post COVID-19 world? What is the future for the three temporary libraries and has any thought been given into continuing their use? How will this decision affect the Council’s vision and plan for the ‘ground floor’ of the city?

"There’s no doubt that the Central Library plays a concomitant role as part of Wellington’s inner-city, surrounded by the central business district, but today’s decision keeps us in the ‘Absolutely Positively’ golden days of 90’s, rather than planning for the future.

"The Chamber put to Councillors a series of questions ahead of them making this decision, imperative to the process. However, we are yet to see the answers."

The Chamber’s submission on the Future of the Central City Library is available here.

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