Deputy wants ‘clear direction’ on museum

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Invercargill Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle.

INVERCARGILL Deputy Mayor Toni Biddle is urging her council and chief executive to provide “progression and a clear direction” about the Southland Museum.

It had been two years since the museum closed, due to earthquake safety concerns, and the community was “crying out” for a solution, she said.

Cr Biddle moved at the Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) infrastructural services committee meeting on Tuesday, chief executive Clare Hadley be asked to report to ICC on all options for the redevelopment of the museum pyramid, on the existing site, within five months.

This would enable the options to be included in the draft long-term plan for consultation.

Cr Biddle said the time was right because ICC now had the mandate to make decisions on the activities, redevelopment and future of the museum, after the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) recognised council’s ownership.

Cr Biddle was worried after she read a report which suggested the decision on the matter should be held back to June 2022.

Mrs Hadley said she had concerns about the timeframe and said ICC would need to hire a project manager for the report to be completed.

She also said a budget for the work should be put aside and this could cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

Cr Biddle did not agree and said the council had already spent a lot of money on reports but had not reached any conclusion.

“We spent $1.9 million in the first option, we spent $75,000 on the second option and we still do not have an outcome. So if council will turn up their nose for a couple of hundred thousand, after we spent all that money, I would be devastated that we would stop the progress.”

All councillors supported Cr Biddle’s motion, which also included a budget estimate of $250,000 and a preference for ICC to use local firms to do the work.

During the meeting, Cr Nobby Clark asked Mrs Hadley about remedial work at Rugby Park Stadium which he said was to be completed no later than June 2020.

Cr Clark said until now he had had only a verbal update and he was still waiting for an official update about the matter.

Committee chairman Ian Pottinger said councillors would receive an update by email yesterday and Cr Clark asked for this information to be made public.

Cr Pottinger agreed.

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