The Ostend Service Centre upgrade is the second part of the Oneroa Library project. When the first Local Board came into office in 2010, we inherited an Auckland City Council (ACC) project for a new combined Liibrary/Service Centre at Artworks. ACC had joined together the two, originally separate, Library and Service Centre projects because of financial constraints. However, community wishes were very clear - people wanted a new library in Oneroa and the Service Centre to stay in Ostend. Much of our Board’s first year (2010-2011) was spent getting the new Council’s commitment to separate the two projects again and battling for enough money to build the original sized library, while retaining sufficient budget to upgrade the Service Centre. Our hard work paid off and we negotiated an additional $1 million to upgrade the Artworks/library courtyard as well.
As many of you will have seen, the Service Centre refurbishment has now started. Once complete, it will mean that customers will finally have much needed privacy when dealing with planning staff about private property matters – conversations that previously were all too public in the building’s reception area. The original Local Board offices and meeting room will make way for Council officers and smaller meeting areas and the Board’s facilities will be replicated closer to the road frontage.
At that point, the old Oneroa Bowling Club building will be available to the community. The Bowling Club was refurbished by the first Waiheke Local Board as a local project, at a cost of over $200k, after it was vacated by the crumbling Club. Sadly, the Club had not fulfilled their obligations under their lease agreement with Council to keep the building in good working order. Worse still, items such as bathroom fixtures, kitchen white-ware and even a 5,000 gallon water tank were stolen from the premises before the hand-back. Precious Club memorabilia was dumped, wall cupboards ripped out and water bores had concrete poured down them to make them unusable.
The building was refurbished and brought up to Council community hall standards for the benefit of the wider community. In doing so, the Board heeded the express wishes of the Reserve Management Plan (RMP) for Alison Park, which states that there will be no more leases given out on the Park once the Bowling Club vacated the premises. This way there would be no further risk of privatisation of public land.
It is disturbing therefore that this new Local Board now plans to change the rules of Alison Park, having already voted $30k to rewrite the RMP. On the pretext that the RMP is due for renewal (as are many others on Waiheke and countless others throughout the entire country) this could allow it to legally install its preferred group/s in the building on a long-term lease basis at low-to-no cost. Thus losing this precious facility to the community, literally months after it has been publicly reclaimed.
Some of these groups already have their foot in the door, invited in by their mates on the Local Board and, predictably, without paying their way. One group has even taken it on themselves to sub-let the building to yet another party! These groups include the Waste Resources Trust (a hangover from the old Cleanstream days – the brainchild of John Stansfield, partner of hard-left Green List MP Denise Roche). Meanwhile, others who have tried to hire the premises through the usual Council channels have been told the building is not available. The Greens are well known for establishing their unofficial headquarters in community buildings. Having specially selected groups take over the Bowling Club could easily turn the building into the new Green Party HQ. All funded by the ratepayer, of course.
Individuals and groups wanting to hire the Bowling Club building on an hourly or daily basis should be making their wishes known NOW. This building belongs to the ratepayers, not the Local Board and their mates. It is the responsibility of Council’s Property Department and Council has well established procedures for renting out their community facilities. The hireage costs are reasonable and the money all goes back into Council coffers for the public’s benefit. The decision to no longer lease out this building to a privileged few was made for good reason and is the general trend across the region.
Don’t wait for this Local Board to shut you out! - Community groups that are paying rent to hire other Council-owned community buildings should simply ask any member of the Board for a key and help yourselves to rent-free space in this newly refurbished building. After all, possession is nine tenths of the law and unless you get your feet under the table now, you’ll be well and truly shut out from Green Party HQ in the future.