Sim­ple so­lu­tion for Globe ac­cess

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - JA­NINE RANKIN

Five years af­ter the $2.4 mil­lion makeover of Palmer­ston North’s Globe The­atre, a plan has fi­nally been agreed to pro­vide ac­cess for more than two wheel­chairs at a time.

The city coun­cil’s arts, cul­ture and her­itage com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended a so­lu­tion that would in­volve widen­ing the cen­tral aisle to ac­com­mo­date more peo­ple in wheel­chairs in the main auditorium.

It would aban­don an ear­lier plan to build a cov­ered pas­sage­way around the out­side of the build­ing to the fire exit door by the front of the stage.

Globe The­atre Trust Board chair­woman Max­ine Dale, also a mem­ber of the Dis­abled Per­sons Assem­bly and man­ager at the Ry­der Cheshire res­i­den­tial cen­tre, said she was ab­so­lutely de­lighted with the break­through.

‘‘It will be some­thing that will be done in the very near fu­ture.’’

She said peo­ple in wheel­chairs would be thrilled to be able to at­tend per­for­mances where they could sit with their friends and have flex­i­bil­ity to move.

At the mo­ment, there were two spots for wheel­chairs just in­side the door.

Those peo­ple had to be last to go in, and first to leave, to make room for oth­ers com­ing and go­ing through the door.

The lack of proper mo­bil­ity ac­cess at The Globe has been an is­sue for the trust board and coun­cil for many years.

The pas­sage­way around the out­side of the build­ing was not in­cluded in the 2012-2013 makeover that saw a se­cond auditorium added, along with a cafe and bar.

The coun­cil re­tained a project in its bud­get to build the $143,000 pas­sage, as­sum­ing the trust board would raise half the money.

But this year, mayor Grant Smith said it was the coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity as owner of the build­ing to pro­vide mo­bil­ity ac­cess.

Prop­erty man­ager John Brenk­ley said it had be­come clear the walk­way op­tion could not be built within the cur­rent bud­get.

It would be dif­fi­cult to get the slope of the pas­sage­way right, and it would be com­pli­cated work­ing around ex­ist­ing low eaves, steel col­umns and foun­da­tions.

The new plan in­volves ex­tend­ing the cen­tre aisle that runs across the cen­tre of the auditorium fur­ther for­ward to cre­ate a wider, flat area for wheel­chairs.

One row of seats would be re­placed with seats that could be eas­ily re­moved when nec­es­sary, and the four rows of seats in front would be moved closer to­ward the stage.

The ex­pected cost would be $36,000, which the coun­cil would pay for with­out a con­tri­bu­tion from the trust board.

Two coun­cil­lors, Leonie Hapeta and Su­san Baty, said it should be paid for jointly, but the ma­jor­ity of the coun­cil­lors dis­agreed.

Com­mit­tee chair­woman Rachel Bowen said putting the bur­den of fundrais­ing back on the trust board cre­ated the risk the work would not be done promptly.

Cr Lorna John­son said it would be ‘‘shame­ful’’ to de­lay any fur­ther.

‘‘This is some­thing that has been hang­ing around for a num­ber of years, and fur­ther de­lays can­not be jus­ti­fied.’’

Cr Vaughan Den­ni­son said the coun­cil had re­ceived plenty of dep­u­ta­tions over the years seek­ing a bet­ter deal for the­atre­go­ers with dis­abil­i­ties. ‘‘We have the bud­get. ‘‘This is a pru­dent so­lu­tion and we want ac­tion.’’

Cr Karen Nay­lor said the plan would be bet­ter if the nar­row door­way to the auditorium was widened at the same time.

Se­nior prop­erty as­sets of­fi­cer Jo­ce­lyn Brod­er­ick said that op­tion could be fur­ther con­sid­ered.

Dale said widen­ing the door­way could re­quire ma­jor struc­tural work and might not be prac­ti­cal.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/STUFF

Palmer­ston North’s Globe The­atre makeover ex­cluded bet­ter ac­cess for wheel­chairs. That is about to be re­solved.

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