Centre to shut after 60 years
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.