Company to transform former Rangitīkei library into dedicated war memorial

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A historical society is in lease negotiations to take back an unused war memorial building.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

A historical society is in lease negotiations to take back an unused war memorial building.

A heritage building that needs to be strengthened against earthquakes can be given new life.

The Bulls and District Heritage Society’s request to turn the city’s 103-year-old High Street library into a dedicated war memorial was accepted by Rangitīkei District Council, but with conditions.

Company President Kevin Ellery said it was a very positive move.

“We’re not going to take the plunge… we have more paperwork to fill out.”

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The old Bulls library was decommissioned in 2020 after reopening at Te Matapihi.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

The old Bulls library was decommissioned in 2020 after reopening at Te Matapihi.

The company initially applied for a 99-year lease at a cost of $ 1 per year and offered to provide the necessary funds to strengthen the building against earthquakes.

The site has been closed since the opening of the new Te Matapihi library in September 2020. The council has accepted a 35-year lease.

Ellery said after looking at the finer details, the company will reach out to the broader Bulls community to hear their thoughts and ensure the idea is supported.

The building was prone to earthquakes and in 2013 its level of reinforcement was 10%.

Since then, the old Bulls library has been listed as due to be strengthened to 34% within 15 years.

The board voted at a meeting in September that if the company entered into a rental agreement, the building could not be opened to the public until it met the new standard.

The building was declared a National War Memorial in 1982. On the arch of the building is a list of names of soldiers who died in World War I.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

The building was declared a National War Memorial in 1982. On the arch of the building is a list of names of soldiers who died in World War I.

Community service group leader Gaylene Prince said the cost in 2013 to code him was $ 170,000.

She could not confirm whether the company was aware of the clause.

Councilor Cath Ash said the question did not suit her.

“It puts all the responsibility on them to put everything in place and I don’t know if… they are fully aware of it.

“We can end up being in a situation where we have a building that ends up stagnating.”

Mayor Andy Watson said the company was ready to enter into a lease of up to 99 years and upgrade the building.

He was not in favor of banning public access until it was tightened, as other municipal buildings in the district had a similar level of hardening and were open to the public.

Council chief executive Peter Beggs wanted the clause to be retained due to his responsibility to buildings, staff and the public.

“It’s a high risk building, the lowest standard you can get.

Cr Angus Gordon has stated that they cannot contract our rights and responsibilities in their own way.

“We are the last man standing … it was 10% in 2013 and I can assure you it has not improved.”

The building was heritage listed in 1981 as a World War I memorial. On the entrance to the arcade, there is a list of soldiers who lost their lives.

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