Cen­tres up in arms

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

SUP­PORT­ERS of sub­ur­ban com­mu­nity cen­tres are join­ing forces to tell city of­fi­cials: Leave us alone.

Smaller cen­tres may be un­der threat from an Auck­land City Coun­cil re­view into com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties.

The re­view over the next year will de­ter­mine whether some build­ings could be re­placed by mea­sures such as adding a meet­ing room to lo­cal li­braries.

Pt Che­va­lier and San­dring­ham com­mu­nity cen­tres and the Dunkirk Rd ac­tiv­ity cen­tre in Pan­mure are among nine fa­cil­i­ties high­lighted as hav­ing low vis­i­tor num­bers.

Pt Che­va­lier com­mit­tee chair­man Paddy En­sor says sup­port­ers are work­ing to­gether to de­fend the cen­tres.

“We’re get­ting to­gether and hope­fully will be able to put up a united front.”

Mr En­sor dis­putes the coun­cil’s claim the cen­tre at­tracts 14,000 vis­i­tors a year.

Larger pur­pose-built cen­tres at­tract be­tween 100,000 and 200,000.

The Huia St build­ing, a con­verted 1951 house, in­cludes Plun­ket rooms, a kinder­garten and a shop.

“We’ve done a lot of im­prove­ments to the cen­tre and nat­u­rally, we’ll be fight­ing against los­ing it,” Mr En­sor says.

“We have a lot of older groups that have been here for years.

“We’ve man­aged to keep their hireage rates at the bare min­i­mum, even though all our costs are go­ing up.”

About 70 per­cent of cen­tre’s fund­ing comes from room hire and fundrais­ing by vol­un­teers.

Mr En­sor puts in about 40 hours vol­un­tary work a week run­ning the cen­tre.

He says the house is too small, but plans for a new fa­cil­ity have been de­ferred by the coun­cil.

San­dring­ham Com­mu­nity Cen­tre chair­man Lin­gappa Kal­burgi also dis­putes the re­port’s find­ings.

“At present the cen­tre is fully oc­cu­pied all day. It’s al­ways in great de­mand. We get many in­quiries we have to re­fer to other places.”

Outh­waite House in Grafton was also high­lighted in the re­port.

The 1920 hall on the cor­ner of Park Rd and Carl­ton Gore Rd at­tracts 2200 vis­i­tors a year.

Com­mu­nity ser­vices com­mit­tee chair­man Paul Gold­smith says the re­view is not purely cost-cut­ting.

“There is very much a broader con­text of try­ing to save money gen­er­ally, but we’re do­ing that in this area by de­cid­ing not to build more fa­cil­i­ties.

“We’re not in the busi­ness of re­duc­ing the cur­rent sup­ply, it’s more a ques­tion of is there a bet­ter way of ar­rang­ing the mix?”

Mr Gold­smith says in some in­stances it could make sense for a room to be added to a busy li­brary, rather than main­tain an un­der-used hall.

But build­ings with spe­cial value, such as war memo­ri­als, will not be sold. “They’re not in play.” The full re­port into com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties and li­braries is ex­pected to be com­plete by De­cem­ber 2009.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Com­mu­nity hub: Pt Che­va­lier Com­mu­nity Cen­tre chair­man Paddy En­sor says he’ll fight to keep the cen­tre.

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