Kensington Community Recreation Centre redevelopment delayed after asbestos discovered
The redevelopment of the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre (KCRC) will be delayed by about six months after crews found asbestos in the ground.
The City of Melbourne confirmed on-site contractors had discovered a small amount of asbestos-containing material while undertaking routine soil testing in late July, which must be removed before work on the project can continue.
“While the asbestos poses no health risk, the affected soil must be removed by a licenced asbestos removalist before work recommences. This work is expected to take around six months,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.
“We’re disappointed by this setback, but this is important work which must be done right to protect our community.”
Demolition of the old KCRC building was finished in May to make way for a $42 million revamped version, which was set for completion in late 2023.
The brand-new recreation centre will feature a 25-metre pool, gym facilities, children’s waterplay, indoor multi-sports courts, and community spaces.
The council said it had worked closely with its consultants and project contractor to determine a safe and efficient method to remove the contaminated soil.
“This will involve removing the contaminated soil and installing a separation layer between the existing soil and the new foundations,” a council statement said.
“The asbestos-containing material is bound within a cement matrix, which reduces the potential for airborne asbestos fibre release. As such, this non-friable material presents a significantly lower health risk.”
Costs for the works are yet to be determined but will be paid by the City of Melbourne.
An updated timeline for completion of the new centre would be provided at the end of soil remediation works, the council said.
However, with the challenges currently facing the construction industry such as building material and labour shortages, the council conceded “the timeline of the project will be significantly impacted”.
The City of Melbourne identified a dire need to upgrade the KCRC to meet the community’s diverse needs with the previous facility having served the community since 1976.
The council’s latest 2022/23 budget included $25 million for the project, which will create around 170 jobs.
After closing its doors to the public in August last year, the centre was emptied, and the pool drained in preparation for works to begin.
Gym equipment was moved to the North Melbourne Community Centre for members to access, while other items had been donated to community groups and local charities.
Fitness classes are being run at the North Melbourne Community Centre and Kensington Town Hall to help the community stay active while the new KCRC is redeveloped.
For more information on the project: kensington.ymca.org.au/ •