Baths feel­ing their age

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

THEY’RE do­ing pretty well for their age but at al­most a cen­tury old the cracks are start­ing to show at Auck­land’s Tepid Baths.

The his­toric build­ing and pop­u­lar swim­ming spot in the Viaduct is due for a ma­jor struc­tural up­grade in the next few years, the Auck­land City Coun­cil says.

The cur­rent use of the build­ing will also be re­viewed.

Coun­cil arts, cul­ture and re­cre­ation group man­ager Ruth Stokes says over the past few years a num­ber of struc­tural is­sues to do with the age and con­struc­tion of the build­ing have been ob­served.

De­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the con­crete foun­da­tions, cor­ro­sion of steel roof trusses and gen­eral de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of her­itage ma­te­ri­als all need con­sid­er­able restora­tion.

The 94-year-old Tepid Baths are reg­is­tered as a cat­e­gory A her­itage build­ing.

Al­though the roof was re­placed a few years ago the trusses were not up­graded and are se­verely rusted.

The con­crete foun­da­tion pil­lars in the base­ment are from when the build­ing was a tidal salt­wa­ter pool and are cracked and crum­bling.

A cur­rent coun­cil plan in­cludes $3.2 mil­lion for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the build­ing but Ms Stokes says it now ap­pears that won’t be enough to ad­dress the longterm prob­lems.

Coun­cil staff are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the struc­tural is­sues and look­ing at time and cost op­tions, which will be pre­sented to the com­mit­tee in a re­port in the com­ing months.

But users can rest as­sured they won’t be forced to swim else­where just yet.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Greg Moyle says the up­grade is not ur­gent and prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen un­til af­ter the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

“The build­ing’s not go­ing to fall down overnight,” he says.

“The last thing you’d want is to have the pool un­der con­struc­tion dur­ing the world cup.”

Mr Moyle says al­though they may re­quire a spruceup be­fore the rush of vis­i­tors ex­pected in Auck­land for the rugby, the main works are still some time away.

He hopes the up­grade will be com­pleted by the build­ing’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tion in 2014.

But there are other op­tions.

Mr Moyle says once up­grad­ing costs have been worked out, a de­ci­sion will be made on whether the baths re­main open or if an­other use will be found.

How­ever with their in­creas­ing use over the last few years, “it would be a real shame for it not to con­tinue as a swim­ming pool”, he says.

Pool man­ager Don McLean says the baths have done “re­mark­ably well” to stay open un­til now.

“Here we are in the 21st cen­tury trad­ing with a build­ing opened in 1914.”

Tell us what you think. Do you use the Tepid Baths? Should they be up­graded? Email a let­ter to edcl@snl. co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Still stand­ing: Coun­cil­lor Greg Moyle says the Tepid Baths are in line for a ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ment in the next few years.

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