Northcote hall saga over

By Sophie Bond


Lifetime Northcote resident and RSA member Bruce Hay remembers when the War Memorial Hall on Rodney Rd was built. He recalls when there was space for a Plunket nurse and a library, and over the years it was used for ballet classes, church meetings and as a voting station.

It's the 57-year-old building's recent history that upsets him; a seven-year period he calls a "mismanaged fiasco".

In 2005, the Birkenhead Library was demolished and Jill Nerheny, community co-ordinator for the local Community Facilities Trust (pictured below), lost her office space. The council contractor was moved into the Memorial Hall as a temporary solution, but a permanent home for her was secured only earlier this month.

Mr Hay says Mrs Nerheny does a marvellous job in the community, but it was inappropriate for the council to have her stay in the hall.

"The RSA were quite upset as they saw the memorial part of the hall was being desecrated," he says.

Over the years, complaints have ranged from being annoyed about the soft toys that could be seen through the glass windows, the fact locals did not have access to the facility, to the lack of respect for the building.

"The RSA and the Northcote Residents' Association have been getting stronger in their appeals to do something about it. At last something has happened, and that is tremendous," says Mr Hay.

At the time the hall was built, Mr Hay was working next door as assistant town clerk for the Northcote Borough Council. He is confident community groups will be happy to have the hall available once again.

The trust that's been based in the building was recently renamed the Kaipatiki Community Facilities Trust, in keeping with new Local Board. It is moving into a newly purchased building in Glenfield's Chartwell Ave. Mrs Nerheny says she's excited by the move and the new building will provide plenty of space for herself and the five other trust employees.

Northcote Residents' associate chairman Brian Plimmer says the perseverance of many people has been rewarded. "We're very lucky the board has found an alternative home for the trust. We will have to see what it looks like empty, but I think some renovations will be required."

He says the association is reviewing a management plan for the hall and there is a list of parties who have previously expressed interest in using the space. Mr Plimmer was unable to provide the names of any groups hoping to use the hall.

Northcote resident Anne du Temple fought the trust's tenancy of the hall and says she's pleased the facility will be available for community use once again. "It's been a long, hard slog and we turned up to meeting after meeting to put our case forward."

She has ideas for future use of the hall, convinced it can help locals feel more connected to the Northcote Residents' Association.

"[The hall] should become a permanent home for [association] meetings. One of my great gripes about the organisation being inaccessible is that they hold their meetings in private homes. They should be able to be attended by any member of the public."

Kaipatiki Local Board chair Lindsay Waugh says settlement for the Glenfield building is at the end of May. She says current budgets will not allow for refurbishment or renovation of the Memorial Hall.

"It's been entirely adequate for the trust over the last seven years. I can't see that there's any need for immediate refurbishment for the community to start using it."

HISTORY

After World War II, the Government put forward a scheme to match pound-for-pound the funds communities raised for local memorials. Northcote Borough residents raised more than 5000 and, with the government subsidy, built the War Memorial Hall.

Do you live in the Kaipatiki ward? How would you like to see this space used in future? Leave us a comment below or post a comment on our Facebook page.

- The Aucklander

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 01 Nov 2014 04:36:02 Processing Time: 559ms