$330k spent to future proof Merivale site

By John Cousins

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Tauranga City Council has paid $330,000 to secure a property next door to the Merivale Community Centre.

Details of the previously confidential deal were revealed in documents tabled at this week's council meeting.

The acquisition was highlighted by Councillor Catherine Stewart, with Councillor Murray Guy complaining that there had been no 10-year plan process to validate the purchase.

The property on the corner of Kesteven Ave and Fraser St was bought from the Hosanna Fellowship Trust for $290,000 (excluding GST) and was described as being for an addition to the community centre.

The Bay of Plenty Times understood the purchase price was for the value of the land. It was to future-proof the community centre for the day when a purpose-built centre was built, similar to Arataki's new community centre.

Council property manager Anthony Averill said the purchase agreement specified that the council would take possession of a vacant site on April 30.

The Hosanna Christ Gospel Church was responsible for demolishing the building and was buying another property.

Mr Averill said the site will be maintained as green space and used by the community centre for outdoor activities.

Long-term plans were for the possible redevelopment of the centre. Merivale Community Centre operated from a converted house in Kesteven Ave.

The deal first reared its head last October when Mr Guy tried to get the purchase out into the open. He said at the time that he did not oppose keeping some of the details confidential until the deal was done.

His concern was there was no debate around the philosophy to support the community centre.

"We need to understand that just because a staff member puts it into the confidential section [of a meeting], it does not automatically qualify as confidential," Mr Guy said.

Merivale Community Centre manager Graham Cameron said the purchase was exciting and opened up a whole lot of possibilities.

"We've talked to the council about the desire to build a purpose- built community centre over time that we would fund and build ourselves but that's probably a three- to five-year project. If we go with the right proposal, there's a real possibility of this.

"The next step is talking to people. Initially it would be great to have a park area next to the community centre for holiday programmes and that kind of thing," Mr Cameron said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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