by Geoffrey Churchman

Three years ago we posted this article by Roger Childs. At the first informal get-together of the WCB members in late 2019, James Westbury said all our careers at the Council would depend on what happens to the Library.

Three years on, the Waikanae Library issue is unchanged and almost nothing has happened. All four WCB members elected in 2019 are no longer members; three including myself resigned through the triennium and Westbury is not standing again. Councilor Prvanov is trying to get that role again, but her record needs to, and will be examined.

Mayor Guru never showed interest in the Waikanae Library, his view was that people should go to the Paraparaumu Library. This must have been a major factor in why almost nothing has happened.

In March 2020 a focus group was set up by the council and I attended the first meeting; thereafter 2 other WCB members attended the meetings as did a few other invited Waikanae community people like Sue Lusk. These meetings ceased in September that year.

The facilitator of the first focus group meeting, an architect, dealt mainly with where the ideal location of the library would be — here, here or here?

Fair enough I thought, Ratepayers will expect that issue to be examined, even though I thought the obvious thing to do was to gut the existing building that had to be closed because of the mold and refurbish it.

If money wasn’t a problem, then another location could be bought by the council, the existing property on it demolished and a brand new purpose-designed library constructed.

But Waikanae isn’t Dubai, and it’s not Christchurch either where most of what was in the central city had to be demolished because of the 2011 earthquakes. There is little spare land available apart from the Aputa Place (Countdown) carpark — but putting that underground underneath a new library isn’t a viable option, and what would be done with the existing building?

So the obvious answer is the one stated above.

If all the time and money wasted on the Guru Gateway had been instead allocated to the Waikanae Library, then solid plans for it would have been developed for it by now, and construction work even begun.

At present the KCDC has the following schedule listed on this page of its website:

March to November 2022

February to March 2023
The investigation stage has six steps:
March-June – reimagining the library and service centre, including the functions it should offer; a new library should align with modern library trends and be set up to cater for future communities
March-June – consider the big picture, ie how the location of the new library and service centre could positively affect the Waikanae Town Centre and the community
March-June – explore and evaluate potential locations for the new library and service centre
July-August – develop a draft framework plan for Waikanae Town Centre and update Council
November- seek community comment on draft framework plan
– finalise the framework plan for Council consideration.
October / November 2023Start construction

What has actually happened, I know not. Candidates need to be asked what level of commitment they have to getting this achieved without more delays.