Groups make colourful plea to keep hall
They came to Hamilton City Council in their tutus or in matching team jackets.
Dancers, parents, and bosses of Drury Lane Dance & Performance asked councillors not to sell their base, Old St Peter’s Hall in Victoria Street.
A sale of the heritage-listed building is proposed in the council’s draft long-term plan.
The adjoining tenant in the building, the Citizens Advice Bureau, is also against the plan.
Dancers and their families descended on the city council chambers on Tuesday afternoon last week, filling the public gallery seats, aisles, and crowding at the doorway.
Please don’t sell the dance hub we call home, Drury Lane Dance & Performance co-owner Kerry Davis said.
The base of 28 years is just right for dance, she said, because of its wooden floor, high ceiling and lack of noise restrictions.
Students can walk or bus to rehearsals and the hall’s used for practice by other groups, including bodybuilders and cheerleaders.
Davis and her mother - Aileen Downey, the other owner - have each earned a civic award through their dance-sector work, she said.
The school operates under volunteer-run Waikato Dance Performance Trust, which has teams perform at community events, such as the Hamilton Christmas Parade, charity fundraisers and Relay for Life.
Students from an intermediate performance team asked council to keep the place where they grew up and formed a dance family.
It’s easy to walk to town if they need something, they said, and it’s a place where they can interact with New Zealand choreographers.
The Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau operates from the adjoining building and has a 255-signature petition to back its view.
‘‘The present location, it’s a humble, small house. It’s welcoming and it has a friendly feel for our clients,’’ board member Susan Harwood said.
This location of 26 years is a contrast to the anonymous feel of government departments many clients deal with, she said.
It would be hard to find a site as central, recognisable, close to relevant services, and with nearby parking and meeting space, like at St Peter’s Cathedral.
Selling the current bureau building was a last-minute proposal which wasn’t well consulted on, board member and University of Waikato student Steven Drysdale said.
Council would make $740,000 from selling the hall, but each year volunteers give about $240,000 in free labour to the city, he said.
Mayor Andrew King said he would circulate a letter from the Anglican Church which confirmed it was the party interested in buying the building.
The Old St Peter’s Hall was built in 1893 and, along with the adjoining Citizens Advice Bureau building, was purchased by the council from St Peter’s Cathedral in 1990.
Citizens Advice Bureau shares the site with Drury Lane Dance School, which occupies the hall.
The buildings are registered as Category 2 heritage buildings with Heritage New Zealand.