Villa near aquatic centre is going

By Alexandra Newlove

6 comments
This fire-damaged Riverside villa - one of the few residential properties owned by Whangarei District Council - is to be removed. Photo / John Stone
This fire-damaged Riverside villa - one of the few residential properties owned by Whangarei District Council - is to be removed. Photo / John Stone

The hope of a 50m pool in Whangarei has the council hanging on to property around the city's aquatic centre.

But a fire-damaged house targeted by unsavoury characters in the past will be removed from the site, the district council's parks and recreation manager, Paul McDonald, said.

The large WDC-owned villa at 3 Ewing Rd behind the Whangarei Aquatic Centre in Riverside stood empty for about two years until it was subjected to a suspected arson attack in July last year. At the time a neighbour said there were unruly "comings and goings" from the house, including people squatting there. Nobody has been charged over the fire and ropes have been put over the badly damaged roof to hold it in place.

Mr McDonald said WDC was arranging to have the house removed from the property and expected it would be gone in about a month. The property would most likely be used for carparking or storage for Sport Northland, until WDC's long term aspiration for a 50m pool and aquatic centre expansion could be realised. A 50m pool for the city was part of the council's scoping document, 20/20 Momentum, which had been out for public consultation since mid-last year.

The document asked for public input on 42 projects for the city, many of which would require private and community partnerships.

The 50m pool that was part of the original complex was removed during the aquatic centre expansion, with the only 50m pool in Northland in Dargaville.

"At this stage there are no firm plans to expand the pool, however the land is currently being kept for that purpose," Mr McDonald said.

The council bought 3 Ewing Rd, which was previously the Willows Childcare Centre, for $430,000 in 2005 with other properties in the street - numbers 11, 9, 7, 5 and 1 - to develop the aquatic centre.

The property, on which stand an old villa and separate large building, was originally rented out at $270 a week, but had been empty for at least two years before the fire. Numbers 5 to 11 Ewing Rd have been developed as part of the aquatic centre expansion.

- Northern Advocate

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