Civic buildings at risk but danger dispelled

The Waipukurau Library and Waipukurau Memorial Hall have been classified "earthquake prone" but the mayor of Central Hawke's Bay reckons there's no cause for alarm.

Structural engineer firm GHD was commissioned by the Central Hawke's Bay District Council to complete an initial evaluation of its three civic buildings for earthquake performance against the new buildings standards in 2012.

The council's chief executive, John Freeman said the report concluded the library and memorial hall both appeared to have been well constructed and were in reasonable condition structurally for their age.

"But because of the structural design standards prevalent at the time they were built, the estimated earthquake performance is measured as 9 per cent for the Waipukurau Library and 21 per cent for the memorial hall, of the new building standard.

"This is less than the 33 per cent minimum and therefore the buildings are classified as potentially earthquake prone in terms of the Building Act."

The Civic Theatre's estimated earthquake performance measured as 64 per cent of the new building standard. It was above the threshold for being potential earthquake prone, in terms of the Building Act; however is below the threshold of 67 per cent for "no potential earthquake risk".

CHB Mayor Peter Butler said GHD told the council there was no imminent risk to people in the buildings. "... but it depends on when the next earthquake happens and what form the earthquake takes, how strong, what direction, what depth, etc."

Mr Butler said the information from GHD stated it is unlikely the library building would collapse catastrophically, but that will depend on the earthquake. "There is always the alternative option of crossing the two bridges and using the modern, up-market Waipawa Library.

"So it's business as usual, with the next steps for the council being to further assess the information received from GHD, carrying out more in-depth assessments of the buildings, and speak to key stakeholders prior to making any decisions on the best action to take to ensure continuity of service without risk to staff or community."

Mr Butler said the assessments would cost about $10,000 each.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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