Decision made, hall to go, money to be returned

THE proposal for a new Edendale Community Centre is dead in the water after a decision by its community board to return the $305,000 tagged for the project.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Edendale-Wyndham Community Board, the board also formalised its request to the Southland District Council (SDC) to dispose of the existing Edendale Hall, closed since November, 2014.
Options for disposal included selling the hall and land, or demolishing the hall before offering the land for sale, board chairwoman Pam Yorke said yesterday.
She said the board had advised the SDC it would be returning $105,000 received for the project, and that $200,000 approved and tagged by the SDC would not be needed.
Earlier this year the board had also returned a $22,600 grant for equipment to Transpower’s Trust Charitable Foundation, when plans to establish the community centre at the Edendale rugby grounds languished, she said.
Money for the community centre proposal had accumulated over more than 10 years and it was time to return those to the community so they could be used by other groups, Mrs Yorke said.
‘‘It’s good to have finally made a decision and good to have the ability to move on.’’
The board could not ‘‘with clear conscience’’ keep the money and continue to ‘‘promise something we can’t deliver’’.
‘‘The nice pot we thought we had has now gone… and that’s not a comfortable place. Giving back that money has changed things.’’
Edendale had been without a central community facility since the hall was closed in November, 2014, because it fell well below New Building Standards earthquake requirements.
Since its closure, community groups had been using other facilities, including the Wyndham Hall, which might become the preferred hall for the area, Mrs Yorke said.
Because so many years had passed since the community centre project was first approved, community needs had shifted considerably and now there did not appear to be cohesive buy-in from the broader community to establish one, she said.
‘‘There is another question that arises. The longer you don’t have [a community centre], do you really need it? People won’t like me saying that, but it is a question that has to be asked.’’
With local body elections looming, no decisions about a community centre would be revisited until the new community board had been formed, she said.
‘‘Once the board has reformed, they may revisit it.’’

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