Dannevirke: Debate on future of Carnegie Centre

By Christine McKay

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Chris Southgate
Chris Southgate

The Tararua District Council is to investigate the establishment of a charitable community trust which will purchase the Carnegie building in Allardice St for a peppercorn amount.

At the recent submissions hearing into the council's draft annual plan, Chris Southgate suggested the charitable trust would be a good option for the council, which was facing a bill of more than $230,000 to bring the historic building up to the required earthquake code.

Mr Southgate said selling the building to the trust for $1 could ensure the heritage building survives. The trust would be responsible for the preservation and operation of the building, built to house Dannevirke's library in 1907.

However, any trust would have to consider uses for the building which is currently home to the Tararua Community Youth Services, the Toy Library and the Dannevirke Highland Pipe Band.

Of the 16 submissions received concerning the Carnegie building, 10 noted its heritage value and its strategic importance to our community.

One of the supporters of a charitable trust, local historian Barbara Ferguson, said people around the world will be watching how we handle the building.

"We must show we have the moral fibre to retain our history and our heritage," she said. Initial ideas for the building include a historic repository for the town with a writer-in-residence space, to alleviate the pressure on the Gallery of History, which is bursting at the seams.

However, Jeanne O'Brien of the Tararua Community Youth Centre wants her organisation to remain in the building.

"This building has been a central part of life for young people here for 20 years and it's a place they see as their own," she said. "It's a perfect place but we'd like to see the facilities expanded to include a music recording studio, with an education and training facilitator.

"We have some very talented young people in our district and all too often they are lost to the community."

She said Tararua leads the country in youth practices.

"So why not lead again by working with young people for a vision for the future, based at the Carnegie Centre?" she said.

Bob Dresser, chairman of the Dannevirke Community Board, said the loss of the Carnegie Centre would have a high social cost and his board were in favour of a charitable trust taking ownership.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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