Council has three paths to choose from for Lane Creek
The long-awaited report looking at options for rerouting Lane Creek under the former convenience store on Wellington’s main intersection has been released. On Thursday, a committee of council will review the three options examined by Aecom, an engineering consultancy, along with cost estimates before sending them out for public input. The least expensive option is to reroute the creek around the former convenience store building and then selling the property. The net cost of this option is $138,020.
The second least costly option would reroute the creek as in option one, but envisions demolishing the existing building and selling the empty lot for private development. The net cost of this option is estimated to be $357,020.
The third option, demolishing the building and creating a public space on this corner with an open creek running roughly where it flows now, turns out to be the most expensive route, estimated to cost $408,250 according to the engineer’s report. The higher cost is due primarily because—unlike options one and two—there are only costs and no means to recover the investment County taxpayers have made in this property.
How we got here
In 2011, as part of a regular, mandated inspection of its culverts, County staff found the conditions beneath the 117-year-old store and former pizza shop, to be poor. When constructed, these buildings simply spanned the creek. Exposure to moisture and air for decades had taken a toll.
Concerned about the risk of the building collapsing and the ensuing liability risk, council decided in June 2015 to buy the building, paying approximately $620,000 for the two buildings at Wellington’s chief commercial intersection Wharf and Main Streets.
There are different versions of what council intended to do next.
Nevertheless, Shire Hall issued a press release a few days after acquiring the properties to outline its vision of a parkette and additional parking on this corner. Public pushback was immediate. At a public meeting called to consider the community’s concerns for this corner, more than 120 crowded into the Town Hall. Nearly all were opposed to the loss of commercial and residential space in a village starved for both. Others voiced strong support for the historic architectural value of the convenience store in particular. Though downtrodden in recent years, the building’s age and prominence—combined with its scale and certain minor architectural features—makes it a worthy structure for restoration and renewal according to many of the participants.
As subsequent meeting in January 2016 yielded once again overwhelming public support for retaining a building on this corner, preferably a restoration of the existing building.
It has taken until now for engineers to determine workable options and costs for council to consider. Council has committed to bringing these options to the public for input. The format and timing of such consultation has yet to be determined.