Construction work on multi-use centre starting soon

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Close-up . . . Metres above the ground, tradesmen get an up-close-and-personal view of the Sacred Heart Basilica during its earthquake-strengthening work. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

The foundations of the multi-purpose parish centre and sporting complex at Roncalli College are expected to be laid within the next few weeks, a Holy Family parish spokesman says.

Parish council chairman Gary Shand said contractors would start on the foundations in the “next week or two”.

The combined facility is set to provide the college with additional covered sports areas, more toilets, changing facilities and meeting rooms – as well as replacing the ageing parish centre at the end of Napier St.

Last week, the Timaru Muslim Educational Trust announced it planned to buy the parish centre to use it as a mosque and educational centre.

While trust representatives did not want to speak further about the project until it was further down the track, Mr Shand confirmed the sale was under contract.

Exterior work . . . Scaffolding covers part of the outside of the Sacred Heart Basilica in Timaru as the church undergoes strengthening work. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said of the trade.

The funds from the sale of the old parish centre would fund the new one, he said.

Work on the neighbouring Sacred Heart Basilica was also “well under way”.

The basilica was undergoing earthquake-strengthening work, which included repairing the two bell towers bookending the facade of the Catholic church. This would include removing all the bells, Mr Shand said. “It’s a big one.”

While a lot of work had been internal so far, the workers from Christchurch’s C Lund & Son had also been using a crane, he said.

The next big step in the project would be the bell towers – and these would involve the crane.

Fundraising for both projects was continuing, including the making and selling of 18,000 cheese rolls just before Easter, he said.

The parish centre-sporting complex is expected to cost about $2million. The Basilica strengthening is estimated to total about $2.5million.

The local contribution to the project would be $1.6million, and while the parish and school had each earmarked $500,000 for the parish complex, the rest was up to fundraising, Mr Shand said.

Both construction projects are expected to be completed by early December, however, the parish council was aware much of the work was weather-dependent.

Because of potential weather delays – and the fact all Sacred Heart Masses were being held at St Thomas’ – the parish council was more focused on a good final outcome than sticking tightly to the timeframe. “It’s not a worry timewise.”