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Auckland Community Centres To Be Rebuilt

Auckland City Council

The Ponsonby and Freemans Bay community centres, both of which were extensively damaged by recent fires, will be rebuilt with improvements to their pre-fire facilities.

Auckland City Council’s Finance and Property Committee today approved $176,000 worth of improvements to the Freemans Bay community centre and $21,000 worth of improvements to the Ponsonby community centre. The improvements are additional to the insurance-paid rebuilding of the centres.

"We’re taking advantage of the opportunity presented by rebuilding to ensure these well used community centres re-open as better facilities than they were previously," said committee chairperson Kay McKelvie.

Both buildings suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage and will be completely rebuilt, with work due to be completed in February next year.

Work on rebuilding the Freemans Bay community centre, where it is believed the fire was caused by an electrical fault, will begin next week. Work on rebuilding the Ponsonby Community Centre is expected to get underway in early November. The cause of the fire that damaged that centre is still under investigation.

Cr McKelvie says the Ponsonby Community Centre is being accommodated in the meantime in the old Bayfield Scbool in Jervois Road, which has been leased by the Council for five months. Freemans Bay Community Centre users are using a variety of alternative venues, including the old Bayfield School building.

She says while the Ponsonby Community Centre was not a listed heritage building, the Council is keen to preserve its heritage features and a heritage architect is working on the reinstatement plans.

The future of Wesley community centre in Mt Roskill, a third community centre destroyed by fire in Auckland City, has not yet been decided. The Wesley centre is owned by the Wesley Community Trust.

Cr McKelvie says the Council is working with the Trust to look at how best and where best to replace the centre. A needs assessment has been completed and is due for discussion with the Mt Roskill Community Board.

The Finance and Property Committee also approved the installation of $230,000 worth of upgraded fire protection in its community halls and centres.

"Until the recent fires, the last known fire in a Council owned community building was in 1995.

"While all the buildings comply with building regulations relating to fire protection, we are upgrading protection at 33 buildings with monitored alarms, including heat and smoke detectors.

"This should ensure the earliest warning of fire and thus the earliest Fire Service response."

Additional fire protection for Council owned heritage buildings is also under investigation.

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