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