Library rethink after former post office sold

Plan for the future of Dunedin Public Library will have to go back to the drawing board, after the announcement yesterday the former chief post office in the Exchange had been sold for a hotel development.

Yesterday's announcement has also removed one option for the Otago Regional Council in its search for a new headquarters.

The Dunedin City Council has more than $26 million in its medium-term budget for the city and new South Dunedin libraries, and Mayor Peter Chin said yesterday the future of both was now an "ongoing exercise" the council would have to grapple with.

Until yesterday's announcement, the council had been analysing the possibility of moving the library to the former post office, after last year signing a joint venture feasibility agreement with building owner South Canterbury Finance.

The problem with the library's Moray Pl site, council library services manager Bernie Hawke has said, is a lack of usable space because of the pyramid design of the building and a lack of refurbishment since it was built in 1981.

Those problems remained, Mr Hawke said yesterday.

The redevelopment of the library did not have "a high degree of urgency"and the budget for that was not due in the budget until about 2014, which allowed time to consider options.

Mr Chin said the next step for the library would be to "go back and look at things again".

The former chief post office had been one option, but there were others.

The proposed South Dunedin library was still in the budget, and was another matter to be considered.

Yesterday's announcement disappointed Dunedin Public Libraries Association president Merle van de Klundert, who just last week told council annual plan hearings of her support for the move.

"I'm very disappointed," she said.

The library's Moray Pl site had outgrown its usefulness, and a new site was needed.

There were other options in the city, apart from the Moray Pl site, and they needed to be considered, she said.

Regional council corporate services director Wayne Scott said yesterday the council had removed funding from its annual plan for a new headquarters when a former option for a new building at the harbourside was "parked".

There were options for the headquarters, although yesterday's news appeared to be the end of one.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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