Pool fails quake standard, closes

A closed sign at the Wanaka Community Pool yesterday. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A closed sign at the Wanaka Community Pool yesterday. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.

Wanaka's community pool has been closed indefinitely because it does not meet earthquake standards.

The pool was engineered by disgraced Southland designer Tony Major.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council confirmed the closure in a press statement yesterday afternoon, soon after chief executive Adam Feeley revealed to the Otago Daily Times it was investigating potentially four buildings in the district - two council facilities and two private buildings - which were worked on by Mr Major.

Wanaka's community was already divided over whether the pool should be upgraded or whether millions of dollars should be poured into a new aquatic centre.

Earlier this week, Mr Major was expelled from the Institution of Professional Engineers for incompetence, after the Southland Stadium, which he engineered, collapsed in a heavy snowstorm in 2010.

The institution said all his work should be checked.

Mr Feeley said of the two council buildings possibly associated with Mr Major, one had been structurally checked by engineers.

The council's press statement said an engineering assessment put Wanaka's pool at about 20% of the current earthquake standards.

Public safety should not be risked before a decision was made about strengthening the building, Mr Feeley said.

The council statement did not name the other council building with which Mr Major was involved, but earlier Mr Feeley said no issues were identified in an initial desktop assessment of the building's design.

''The mere fact that Tony Major is involved with the engineering doesn't of itself change anything,'' he said.

''There will be lots of buildings in Otago and Southland he has been involved with.

''If there is a perception that having Tony Major's name next to [a design] means there is a problem, that would be a very dangerous perception to have, and largely wrong.''

Mr Feeley said the council would ''absolutely not'' name the privately owned buildings which were thought to have been engineered by Mr Major.

One building was definitely designed by Mr Major and the council had contacted the owner. Yesterday afternoon council staff were checking records to confirm Mr Major's involvement with another.

The council would raise the issue of Mr Major's involvement with the building owners, and while the council wanted to be informed of any potential issues, any decisions over possible remedial work was for them, he said.

Invercargill City Council building regulation services manager Simon Tonkin said yesterday his staff were still compiling a list of buildings Mr Major had worked on.

He said that given the failure of long-span steel trusses at Stadium Southland, they were initially focusing on checking commercial buildings which had long-span steel trusses.

Council staff were checking their files and approaching designers and builders to identify city projects Mr Major had worked on.

Issues about Mr Major's work were not the main focus of yesterday's southern cluster meeting of building control managers in Alexandra, but Mr Tonkin said the opportunity was taken to update other managers on the approach each was taking to identify Mr Major's work.

- david.williams@odt.co.nz

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