Rugby Park work gets under way

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Invercargill's Rugby Park.

TOXIC mould is set to be removed from Invercargill’s Rugby Park Stadium after structural safety concerns were resolved.

In February, Invercargill City Council (ICC) resolved to remove the mould, retest the environment, and complete restoration work, which would enable Rugby Southland staff and the Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club to use the facility again; they had vacated the building due to toxic mould-related health concerns last year. Work had been delayed due to lockdown and structural concerns.

Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club president Tony Rabbitt said he was glad work was under way.

“It’s pleasing to see something happening and some deaf ears listen… hopefully the progress will continue and we’ll be in there from the end of August.”

At an ICC meeting earlier in the month, councillor Nobby Clark asked chief executive Clare Hadley about the remedial work at Rugby Park Stadium which he said was to be completed no later than June 2020.

An update provided last week was sent to councillors via email and Cr Clark asked for it to be made public.

Mrs Hadley said work had not yet been able to begin because of safety concerns relating to the bleachers above the space.

“Questions were raised by structural engineering firm Kensington Consulting about the safety of contractors working beneath the bleachers.

“It was confirmed that working under the building should be for short periods of time only to minimise risk, and that bracing would preferably be installed.”

Since a safe worksite was established, an engineering firm had been engaged to fabricate temporary steel bracing, which would enable decontamination specialists to safely enter the area and undertake the work required.

The temporary steel bracing was to enable access for the mould removal and remediation work, and public access on the bleachers would overload the bracing system, Mrs Hadley said.

It was anticipated the work would cost about $100,000.

Structural concerns in the west stand bleachers meant they would remain off-limits to the public.

Rugby Southland general manager Steve Mitchell said work on the structural issues was likely to begin next year.

“Although it’s not available for this season, it’s great to see some positive movement.”

While there were a “few seats lost” and would therefore affect ticket sales, he said it was “always safety first”.

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