Ostend Hall is a huge community asset. It is home to the indoor part of the weekly Ostend Market, a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Without the hall the market will be a shadow of its former self. Where will the market go? This is not a question addressed on the report on the local board agenda.
The hall is used as a voting centre in general elections; it is used to host a variety of public meetings which its central location facilitates; it is the community centre for Ostend. Even the officers’ report states the hall is a ‘high use’ venue and returns around $11000pa to ratepayers from hireage fees. The hall will not suit most community groups wanting a small meeting room like the unsuccessful applicants for the OBC building.
Even if, instead of leasing the hall to a single group, the Board puts in a ‘gatekeeper’ management group, the effect will be the same. The hall will only be leased to groups deemed ‘suitable’ by the management group. This is the model that shuts out the public from access to the old library space that ratepayers spent hundreds of thousands on to refurbish. It is the worst of all possible worlds. The ratepayers, through the Board, pay the 'gatekeeper' group a 'management fee', to manage the exclusion of the public. No money comes back into public coffers to defray the public's expense of maintaining the buildings. All this is unnecessary under the status quo.
One by one Waiheke has lost all its community halls under this failed Waiheke Local Board. The community is effectively shut out from all publically funded buildings leaving Surfdale Hall as the last publically owned facility for general community use. I expect to see this too fall into the hands of one of the board’s crony groups so that ratepayer funds can be channelled into propping up political groups loyal to the Green Party. These will form a power base untouchable by more community-minded future boards.
This is what happens when those motivated purely by political power take control of communities. They destroy them.