Centre to shut af­ter 60 years

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ELESHA ED­MONDS

Play­time is over for kids at an Auck­land child­hood ed­u­ca­tion centre.

Af­ter 60 years, Bal­moral Play­cen­tre will be clos­ing its doors as the land it leases and shares with Bal­moral Pres­by­te­rian Church is be­ing put up for sale.

The play­cen­tre will in­stead merge with an­other centre in Mt Eden.

Fall­ing con­gre­ga­tion num­bers at the Bal­moral Rd church saw it amal­ga­mate with St John’s in Mt Roskill at the end of last year.

The move left the play­cen­tre’s fu­ture in jeop­ardy with some say­ing the clo­sure would leave a ‘‘gap­ing hole in the com­mu­nity’’.

The centre re­ceived of­fi­cial no­tice this month that the church’s land would be put up for sale at the end of the year.

Kate Gar­ton, one of Bal­moral Play­cen­tre’s co-or­di­na­tors, says the team was un­able to se­cure a suit­able al­ter­na­tive fa­cil­ity or fund­ing to re­lo­cate the centre.

The bad news has come with a sil­ver lin­ing - Maun­gawhau Play­cen­tre in Mt Eden has of­fered to merge with the centre, mak­ing it the big­gest play­cen­tre in Auck­land.

‘‘They’re be­ing so gen­er­ous since they’ll be dou­bling the size of their centre which puts a lot of pres­sure on their space,’’ Gar­ton says.

‘‘There’s a huge sad­ness that we can’t con­tinue in our lo­cal area.’’

Bal­moral Play­cen­tre is a par­ent-run com­mu­nity which of­fers five child­care ses­sions a week. These are at­tended by 38 chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Gar­ton says most of the fam­i­lies will be mov­ing with the centre as most of the other kinder­gartens in the Bal­moral area are at ca­pac­ity.

Many fam­i­lies have al­ready been split­ting their time be­tween the Maun­gawhau and Bal­moral cen­tres in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the merge, she says.

Gar­ton says the team is now con­cen­trat­ing on mak­ing the last few weeks at the centre ex­tra spe­cial for the chil­dren.

They are hold­ing an open day on Septem­ber 10 so past mem­bers and the public can come along to say goodbye to the build­ing.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously since the centre has been there for 60 years there will be peo­ple who brought their kids here years ago that may want to say goodbye,’’ Gar­ton says.

Visit bal­moralplay­cen­tre.co.nz for more in­for­ma­tion on the open day.

Bal­moral Play­cen­tre co-or­di­na­tors Stephanie Chadd with Lucas, Kate Gar­ton with Kas­tian and Me­gan Llewellyn with Ayla.

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