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New Onehunga Community Centre

NEWS RELEASE

14 May 2001


New Onehunga Community Centre
‘approved in principle’


A new library and community centre in Onehunga has come a step closer to construction – but it still has a major hurdle to jump before work begins on the project.

Auckland City Council’s Community Development Committee last week endorsed its previous approval of the new $4.5 million building and it is seeking an extra $280,000 essential for a lift and stairs.

An additional $320,000 is also being sought to develop the downstairs area for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and for office space for community groups.

But a resource consent must be gained before work can begin on the project, which has already been beset with delays after protests by several community groups.

The protesting groups do not want the old Onehunga Council Chambers in Church Street to be demolished for the new building.

The opponents of the new centre object to its design, claiming it is smaller than the existing building. They want the chambers refurbished.

However, a council report says after all options for refurbishment of the building were thoroughly investigated, it was not as beneficial in terms of providing the range of community facilities a new building would – and refurbishment would have been more expensive.

Community Development Committee chairperson, Councillor Penny Sefuiva says the new building design is the most efficient use of space, providing the best range of facilities for a range of community groups using the building.

The public space area in the final plan was the same as in the design criteria and the new library would be bigger, more functional and more user-friendly than the existing one.

She says all the groups using the community house have been accommodated and the new library will be more suited to long-term community needs than the existing one.

“All the stakeholders accepted the design process, in which nobody had any fixed view of the outcome,” says Councillor Sefuiva.

“Ultimately, the final outcome of an expert evaluation panel recommended a rebuild as providing the best solution. It’s the stakeholders who will benefit most from the outcome of this project.”

Referring to several rowdy interruptions during the committee meeting by opponents of the new building, Councillor Sefuiva says she is disappointed that an element had arisen of “abuse and harassment towards staff who were just doing their job.”

She says the Council had more requests for space and support from community groups that it could ever meet. Community groups in other wards would be envious of the quality of the Onehunga project and, ultimately, the benefits it would give community groups.

In an effort to try and reach agreement between the opponents of the building and the Council, the committee agreed that “a facilitated meeting for all community groups be held in an endeavour to reach a consensus.”

In addressing concerns about the future of the heritage building currently used as a community house, Councillor Sefuiva reassured the meeting the Council will continue to advocate to the owners of the building, the Ministry of Education, for its retention for education and community purposes.

As yet there has been no response from the Minister’s office with regard to its future.

However, Councillor Sefuiva acknowledged: “The building is an icon of Onehunga and one which we are hopeful this government will be sympathetic to keeping in public ownership.”

ENDS


For further information, please contact:
- Councillor Penny Sefuiva, tel: 846-0861.

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