Waipa District Council will consider making a $500,000 grant towards a new $1.5 million sport and recreation centre in Ohaupo — but only if the local community supports it.
The proposal will be included in the Council's draft 10-Year Plan to be released for public comment in mid-March.
The Plan, which sets budgets and priorities for the coming decade, will be confirmed in June this year, once the community has had input.
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest said if there was strong community support for the project, including support for the targeted rate on nearby ratepayers, the grant could be made in the 2020/2021 year.
A separate charitable trust would be formed to manage any new facility. It would not be managed by Council.
He confirmed no funding has been set aside to upgrade the existing Ohaupo War Memorial Hall after an earthquake assessment last year indicated the hall needs major work as Council wanted to assess support for the proposed new facility first.
"At the end of the day, the community needs to tell us very clearly whether it supports the proposal for the new sport and recreation centre or not," he says.
"We're looking forward to hearing from people in Ohaupo and surrounding areas once the draft 10-Year Plan is released next month."
The Ohaupo Sport and Recreation Centre proposal has been led by a community steering group.
It is chaired by Ohaupo Rugby Sports Club president Dave Kite. Project manager is Chris Gatenby.
Ohaupo Rugby Sports Club is located on Ohaupo Memorial Park and the proposed new facility would replace the existing rugby clubrooms and community gymnasium.
The new centre would include a community hall, separate clubroom facilities for multiple sports and community groups, kitchen and bar facilities, changing rooms and a community gymnasium.
Other Memorial Park users are also represented on the steering committee, including Ohaupo Play Centre, Junior Rugby, Scouts and Touch Rugby — plus community members.
It is also home base for Ohaupo Netball (although the courts are at the school) and Ohaupo Athletics (which formed just last year and had to be capped at 140 junior members).
The project has seed funding of $200,000 from the sale of Ohaupo Bowling Club and Ohaupo-Ngahinapouri Lions have given their support and some financial backing.
Dave says the concept is not just about the sports club, but is designed to provide a focal hub for the village.
He says there has been a decline in social infrastructure for Ohaupo, meanwhile the village population is growing.
"Ohaupo Rugby Sports Club, which turns 130 this year, has continued to be an important focal point for Ohaupo residents," says Dave.
"The planned centre aims to be even more inclusive."
Dave says the planning started about 18 months ago when the sports club was discussing making extensions to the clubrooms.
"We realised it would cost about the same to build new rather than renovate, and that we had the opportunity to do something worthwhile for the village," he says.
"The steering group came together and decided there was the will in the community to proceed with a grander vision."
On the positive side was the existing location.
Ohaupo Memorial Park is the main recreational reserve in the village, it has two pedestrian access points from the main road, plenty of parking, plenty of room for further development and, being on the western side of the village, is easily accessed by the majority of residents without having to negotiate the busy state highway.
It also borders Radius Windsor Court Rest Home and Retirement Village and management has indicated it would be keen to have access to facilities for residents.
The steering committee believes the centre would give growth to even more activities and groups, as well as providing a much needed facility for functions, weddings, funerals and other events.
They would also like to bring back Ohaupo Community Fireworks.
With $200,000 in hand, a potential $500,000 grant from the Council would leave the community with $800,000 to secure from other sources.
The cost of any Council grant would be covered by around 1000 nearby households most likely to benefit from and use the new facility — about $40 per household, per year for 30 years.
Dave says initial community meetings held by the steering committee have been generally positive and it seems there is energy in the community now that could see this project proceed — but it is vital everyone learns the facts and has their say with Council.
"We believe if we get a positive response from the community and secure the Council grant we can raise the necessary funds from other grant organisations and through our own fundraising and make this happen in a couple of years," he says.
Members of the steering committee are available to discuss the project with the community and they urge Ohaupo residents to make their feedback known.