Dannevirke: Fate of Carnegie Centre uncertain

By Christine McKay

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Dannevirke's historic Carnegie Centre on Allardice St.
Dannevirke's historic Carnegie Centre on Allardice St.

The future of Dannevirke's earthquake-prone Carnegie Centre still hangs in the balance.

The Allardice St building, built to house Dannevirke's library in 1907, was gifted to our town by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and currently has one tenant - Tararua Community Youth Services (TCYS).

Tararua district councillor Shirley Hull has asked what has happened to plans to set up a charitable trust to take over the historic building after a suggestion was made during the 2014 annual plan submissions to sell the building for a peppercorn sum to a charitable trust. And while the charitable trust hasn't yet eventuated there has been renewed interest by an unknown party in possible options for the building.

Meanwhile, Tararua District Council's chief executive Blair King has told the Dannevirke News, the Carnegie Centre isn't on its annual planning for earthquake strengthening.

"But it will become a topic of discussion," he said. "However, the challenge is, if we spend $300,000 or $400,000 on earthquake-strengthening the building is it going to be fit for purpose? Or is there a better alternative for spending that sort of money?"

And district mayor Roly Ellis said he had concerns too.

"Probably you could chuck a hell of a lot of money at it and it still wouldn't be right. We have to think very sensibly where the future is for this building."

A Dannevirke woman, who doesn't wish to be named, said she believed the Carnegie Centre should have been strengthened then restored and utilised for the arts.

"It could have been turned into a gallery or something which would make us special," she said. "You know I never heard anything more about the charitable trust apart from those comments at the submissions in 2014 and if we lose these old buildings it diminishes us as a town.

"An awful lot of damage has been done in the name of progress and we don't look back and treasure what we have, not just in Dannevirke, but all around New Zealand. "If they bring the Carnegie Centre down, shame on their heads."

TCYS is the sub tenant in the building, with a management agreement held by a trust with the district council.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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