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Frustrated ... Timaru man Eoin Dryden is concerned about the amount of time it is taking to be repair the fire-damaged West End Hall. PHOTO: RACHAEL COMER

by Rachael Comer

A Timaru man concerned about the amount of time it is taking to repair the fire-damaged West End Hall will have to wait a bit longer.
Eoin Dryden contacted The Courier last week over his concerns that four months on from the fire at the hall in Maltby Ave, which caused significant damage to the Timaru District Council-owned building, there appeared to be no visible action “to having this central amenity repaired or rebuilt”.
However, the council estimates the hall would not reopen until next April.
Mr Dryden said the hall had been used extensively by various clubs and organisations.
“Not to mention the many private functions such as weddings, concerts, indoor bowls, masonic lodges and health and fitness groups – the list goes on,” he said.
“My concern is that the council have not appeared to make public their intentions of the future of this valuable public amenity, nor has there appeared to be any work done on the building other than boarding it up for obvious security reasons.”
Mr Dryden said he understood the building was covered by insurance.
“If so, I would have thought that the council would, or should have, sufficient ability to induce immediate action from the powers that be, for the repair of this building.”
Council property manager Matt Ambler said the hall was in the hands of the insurance company assessor.
“We are in frequent contact with them to ensure a swift resolution to the assessment work, but we cannot proceed with reinstatement until this is finished.
“While we are waiting for this, we are putting plans for the building consent together. When the insurance assessment is complete, the appointed builder will commence work, initially on partial demolition of the damaged parts of the building, before the rebuild begins.”
He said the estimate for the hall reopening was April 2017, although this date might change depending on rebuilding work begins.
“We are currently advising any bookings between then and June of the situation.
“Regular hirers were contacted and advised what other sites we have available for hire, but there have been very few requests for help in finding other venues.”