Pictured: Malcolm Sparrow and Ngaire Best
Tawa residents are being asked whether they are willing to come up with to $1 million to save the derelict Tawa railway station which is under threat of demolition.
Members of the suburb’s community board were told last week that the building has been leaking for years. Representatives from Greater Wellington Regional Council, which took ownership of the building three months ago, told board members the water damage is so extensive that piles have subsided and are not supporting the floor, while parts of the building are riddled with borer.
Greater Wellington’s transport manager Wayne Hastie says the building is on a lean. “It’s in a pretty poor state. There’s a high risk that if we tried to repair it, it could fall to pieces.”
Dr Hastie says if the building were demolished, Greater Wellington could construct a replacement waiting area in about three months for about $600,000. Although the old building could be restored at cost of between $1 million and $1.5 million, Dr Hastie says it would be a risky and time-consuming undertaking. “It will require lifting the building to repile it. But it could disintegrate when we do that.”
And because Tawa is on the main trunk line and the main access to the platform is by overhead bridge, it will provide very difficult working conditions, with overhead lines and passing trains close by. Dr Hastie says the station will probably have to be closed while any demolition or construction takes place.
Tawa Community board chairman Malcolm Sparrow says he wants to hear what residents want done with their railway station. “Our role is to gauge the feelings of the community. We have to act on behalf of the community.”
Mr Sparrow says the board has organised a public meeting for Sunday May 6 at the Tawa Community Centre, starting at 4.30pm. Officers from Greater Wellington have been asked to come along and make the same presentation they made to the community board and answer questions.
Wellington city councillor and Tawa resident Ngaire Best says doing nothing is not an option. “The station is unsafe.”
Ms Best says she would like to be able to restore the building. “It’ll be great to preserve it. But that could be up to $1 million and Tawa is not a wealthy community with a large number of donors. And then there are the practicalities of having the station closed for a long period of time.”
Historic Places Trust spokesman David Watt says the station is not a registered heritage building. Nor is it listed in Wellington City Council’s District Plan.
He says the trust hopes Tawa Community board will look at all options. “We hope the community will stand up and say we want to restore it.”
David Parsons from the Tawa Historical Society says the station dates from 1937 when the rail tunnel under Newlands was put through. However, it closed as a staffed station in the late 1980s. “It hasn’t had much maintenance, if any.”
He says the station building is in a bad way. “It’s poor. When you stand inside you can feel the lean.”
The society will present a written report to the May 6 public meeting. But Mr Parsons says its contents have yet to be decided.
Do you think Tawa railway station should be restored, or is spending an additional $1 million too expensive and too risky?
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