Richmond info centre likely to close
After more than 30 years, the Richmond and Districts Information Centre looks set to close at the end of March.
Dwindling volunteer numbers along with falling visitor queries are combining to force the closure of the Gladstone Rd centre in Richmond, near Nelson.
Volunteer co-ordinator Sally Symonds said the whereabouts of the public toilet was now the most common question.
‘‘A sign would solve that problem,’’ she said.
The team of 20 volunteers was half the number who worked in shifts at the centre in 1998. Volunteers today may still have five or six queries in the morning and the same in the afternoon during the busy summer months. However, there might be no visitors during winter shifts.
‘‘People just get sick of it,’’ Symonds said. ‘‘It’s not worth our while.’’
Fewer visitors also made it difficult to train new volunteers.
The issue had come to the head because another three volunteers intended to leave after Easter, which would force the closure of the centre at the end of March. Symonds, 80, was among the three.
Volunteers believed new technology was making the centre redundant with a noticeable drop in visitor queries over the past two years, she said.
Symonds wrote to Tasman District Council in January, outlining the issue. ‘‘Hopefully, the council can find someone to run the centre and obtain more volunteers.’’
The community development committee last week discussed the matter and noted the council was ‘‘not in a position’’ to take over operating the centre.
Community development manager Susan Edwards asked councillors if they would like staff to spend more time looking at options for the centre ‘‘or if you’re happy to note that nothing, it will close’’.
Cr Mark Greening asked if the council could ‘‘actively go wider to see if there are other volunteers who might want to step in’’.
However, Edwards said the council had been advertising and ‘‘there hasn’t been much uptake’’. if we do
Cr Kit Maling said the location ‘‘isn’t great’’. ‘‘I’m sorry, it’s past its use-by date.’’
Cr Paul Hawkes questioned the centre’s viability ‘‘in the absence of volunteers going forward’’.
The committee agreed to thank the volunteers for their contribution.
The Richmond and Districts Information Centre will likely have a permanent closed sign from the end of March.