Twenty one million dollars to fix Lawrence Yule’s Vanity Project


Local Government NZ Chairman and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule has a big problem on his home patch with one of his vanity projects.

The much vaunted, scarcely used and very expensive Opera House doesn’t come up to earthquake standards is now closed and fenced off.

Bringing Hastings’ earthquake-prone Opera House complex up to code could cost between $10.7 million and $21.7 million, a report has found.

Hastings District Council commissioned Holmes Consulting Group to investigate strengthening options for the city’s Municipal Building and Hawke’s Bay Opera House complex, much of which has been closed since last year when the earthquake risk was identified by engineers.

The council released the Holmes report today ahead of councillors discussing what to do with the troubled facility.

If it is to be re-opened to the public, the complex must be strengthened to a minimum of 34 per cent of current earthquake load requirements in accordance with building regulations.
The report found meeting those minimum requirements for both the Opera House and the Municipal Building was likely to cost between $10.7 million and $13.2 million.

That is just to bring it up to 34% of earthquake standards. If it is to be bought up to 67% it will cost a lot more.

However the report said recommendations from the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineers were that strengthened buildings should target a minimum of 67 per cent compliance.
The report’s estimate for 70-75 per cent compliance was between $14.2 million and $17.8 million.

A city like Hastings doesn’t need an Opera House, and it certainly doesn’t need to have a mayor that spends vast amounts of ratepayers money on vanity projects.

The opponents to amalgamation will continue pointing to Lawrence Yule’s massive spending program and how he has created a huge amount of debt that will be saddled on the people of Napier.

As the local paper points out?in their editorial,?at this price it may be time to demolish the Opera House and build something else.

The big question is whether it is worth spending a cool $21million in getting 100 per cent code on structures that are only valued at about $25million.

Knocking the building down is beginning to look very attractive. However, if that drastic step is taken, then the council needs to let the people of Hastings decide what, if anything, replaces it.

The problem with that scenario is big spending and big promising mayors hell bent on a legacy vanity project are likely to go nuts with a new project.


– HB Today