Demolition call confirmed

A last minute call to save the old city council building has been denied, and Tauranga City Council will soon announce the successful tenderer for its demolition.

Tuesday's council meeting denied Ken Evans' call for a referendum on the proposal to demolish the building which has been vacant since December 2014 when mould was discovered in the building.

Ken made his feelings known about the decision to demolish in March when he offered to buy it for $10 so it could be repaired and leased out as office space.

His latest attempt drew fire and ire from councillors who unanimously voted to go ahead with the demolition, and also decided it was time the city council changed its rules so the little used referendum call cannot be similarly used in future.

Councillor Gail McIntosh who was part of the previous council's civic heart project says in the last triennium she was among those who went through the process of looking at all the buildings on the council campus and reading the huge amount of paperwork on the issue.

She has no doubt the building is unsafe, it needs to be demolished - and the sooner, the better.

The reports are all public reading. A significant number of engineers have agreed on the building's demolition and the city council cannot even put its own staff in it.

The consultation process and subsequent public hearings enabled ‘anyone and everyone' to make input into the decision.

“It is not a topic for a referendum,” says Gail. “It seems the oddest thing to have a referendum on. If you have a referendum on that you could have a referendum on anything.”

If the council had agreed to the referendum call it would have triggered a petition process, and if a valid petition was received the council must then hold the referendum. The cost would be about $151,000 as a stand-alone event, and the result would not be binding on the council.

As only 38 per cent of the electorate voted, Gail doesn't believe they would be able to get a 50 per cent participation in anything.

“And I don't believe demolishing a building is a topic for a referendum. If you have referendum on this you could have a referendum on anything.”

Tenders have been called for the building's demolition, with the council previously stating the successful tenderer is expected to be announced this week.