of the Hokitika Guardian
A plan to strengthen and complete all restoration work for St Mary’s Church including dismantling the bell tower and rebuilding it should see the entire project completed by Easter 2019.
Parishioners were advised at Mass at the weekend of a new outline for a one-stage re-entry programme for their category 1 Heritage NZ classified building. This replaces an earlier staged re-entry plan, which would have seen the earthquake strengthening spread out over five years.
The earlier idea of removing the problem structural elements such as the bell tower so the church could be used immediately with the rest of the strengthening and rebuilding work then to be done over time while the church was in use was found to be less cost-effective.
In a statement to parishioners St Mary’s parish finance committee spokesman Mark Lockington said the Catholic diocese of Christchurch had committed to the one-stage plan that would see the church completed and reoccupied within the next 24 months, “and save significant capital cost”.
“The completed church will have a bell tower. Because the diocese has committed to a one-stage re-entry process this has shortened the timeframe by up to five years, as originally communicated,” Mr Lockington said.
As a consequence, more engineering design work for the whole structure needed to be completed in the short-term which had partly delayed commencement of any work on the church at this stage.
At this stage formal fundraising would be held over until next April, when the contract was to be awarded so a detailed cost and plan could be presented to parishioners and potential donors.
The timetable provided by the diocese for the revised plan is that all work be completed within the next 24 months:
Engineering concept plan to be completed this September.
Engineering design to be 100% complete by December.
Tenders for construction to be called in March.
Contract to be awarded in April.
Construction to commence by May 2018.
Works 100% completed by April 2019.
Mr Lockington said everyone had been patient given the way the strategy to reopen the church had evolved but having a firm plan now in place by the diocese on behalf of the parish was good news.
“We would like to extend our appreciation to everyone who is working on this project.
“Together we will make it a success. We look forward to celebrating Easter Mass in 2019 in our place of worship at St Mary’s Church.”
Delaying further formal fundraising until the final contract figure was announced next April was a sign of faith in the goodwill
of parishioners, the wider community and donors who, along the way, had had to try to understand the complexities of what St Mary’s and the diocese faced in trying to find the best way forward.
“That way was now clear thanks to the efforts of diocesan property staff, who had been juggling multiple building projects in Canterbury and Westland, he said.
“The diocese are doing their best as they put a timeline in the ground.”
However, people needed to see tangible progress in the form of work ‘on the ground’ with a clear overarching plan they could grasp to understand what was needed for funds, he said.
“We wish to show parishioners tangible work is occurring and then start fundraising when people can see the bus is under way.”