It was ‘‘ a disgrace’’ that ratepayers will have to foot a massive bill for a new shelter at Tawa Railway Station after the current building has suffered years of neglect, the chairman of Tawa Historical Society says.
A meeting hosted by the suburb’s community board on May 6 to gauge reaction to plans to demolish the 75-year-old station saw general support given to tearing it down. Leaks and structural and piling issues have led to its demise, so owners Greater Wellington Regional Council have proposed a $600,000 shelter or $1.5 million restoration.
The latter could take up to 18 months, while a shelter could be constructed in about three months.
Community board chairman Malcolm Sparrow said they expect a decision from GWRC soon. A straw poll taken at the end of the meeting indicated about twothirds of the 80 people attending favoured the cheaper, quicker, option.
‘‘It might take place within a few months, maybe sooner, we just need it resolved. I thought there might be a groundswell of support to restore the station but that hasn’t seemed to happen. Many of the people I spoke to could not stomach a long closure of the station.’’
Mr Sparrow says if a business was to set up in the station, or tickets and coffee were sold there – much like what has occurred at the refurbished Plimmerton Station – then a case could be made for restoration. But this was not on the cards.
The historical association’s chairperson Bruce Murray was scathing of the entire situation, saying ‘‘once this building is gone, it’s gone’’. He was dubious of the numbers being put foward.
‘‘I struggle to see how it [a shelter] on an 80 metre square footprint would cost $ 600,000. In their presentation the quotes were based on what was happening at Naenae station. They can’t know for sure it’s going to be the same at Tawa. I think the figures are scaring people.’’
Mr Murray says they know the station is in trouble but it ‘‘infuriates’’ him that it has been left to languish.
‘‘The neglect in the past 20 or 30 years is a disgrace. The railways were sold to private enterprise and it was left to taxpayers to pick up the tab.
‘‘Look at them now. It says it all when the signalling equipment inside is protected by a canvas tent. We [THS] are realistic and can see it’s in bad shape but it’s outrageous that it’s been milked and scrapped like this.’’
He says the building has historic value and used to be considered a heritage site by Wellington City Council.