Preliminary plans for Dannevirke's new Fantasy Cave were unveiled at the first annual meeting of the Board of the Dannevirke Fantasy Cave.
The plans were presented at the meeting by designers Hamish McIntyre and Sam Drake and showed the basic layout of The Cave interior and also the exterior appearance.
Plans for displays and exhibits, as well as their positions, were not included because they will be the result of discussions with all volunteers.
Board chairman Grant Hurrell acknowledged the architectural work put in by McIntyre at a greatly reduced rate who said he was more than happy to support The Cave because of what it brought in to the town.
"I have never had it happen on a project before but I have engineers chasing me this time in relation to Fantasy Cave," McIntyre said.
In opening the meeting Hurrell said it had been a challenging year for the board which held its first meeting in April 2019.
"I must thank the five members of the board for their work. I've had a count up and members have put in at least 450 hours since March 31 last year."
Hurrell spoke of the decision to form a board, following the suggestion of the late John MacGibbon, to administer, promote and secure funds going forward.
"The big decision was made in March last year and not all volunteers were entirely happy about it. But the choice was either go forward and reposition The Cave in new premises or close down. The board unanimously chose to establish new premises."
The proposed purchase of the Mills Garage site, on which the new cave is planned to be built, should become unconditional at the end of October.
While funding to date was pleasing, Hurrell said the long process of applying for further funds would now begin.
Letters from within the community to support funding applications had been sought and there had been a great response to this request, Hurrell said.
Board member Mike Walsh said he had seen the letters and there was great support for the Fantasy Cave.
"The theme that came through in the letters was that people were thinking about the community as a whole, not as individuals."
Thanks were given to all volunteers for their commitment to The Cave.
The luncheon to follow the meeting was sponsored by community members and in particular the Eunson family from Piripiri to thank those responsible for running The Cave.
"We are lucky to have the people that we have," Hurrell said.
Volunteer Shirley Walker thanked all those involved in the Fantasy Cave for all the work they had done.
"I want to say thank you to you too, Grant and to [board secretary] Liz Edwards. Look how far we've come. You say it will be a three-year project, but I don't think it will be three years, I think you are being conservative."
Hurrell said the new cave was a project worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and that was why everyone involved was kept fully informed on what was happening.
"We haven't really put the building fund out to the public yet and the simple reason for that is that we are scared of scams. We have to get the building fund locked in at the bank.
"It's all the little things we have to think of and many of these amount to added costs for the board at a time when it has no income and is trying to save money."
The Building Account will shortly be advertised on Facebook and in print for anyone who wishes to support The Cave.
Throughout the past year Hurrell said one thing that became obvious was that Fantasy Cave had to open more than one day a week.
Edwards said feedback from the district's information centres was that there were a lot of inquiries as to what there was to do in Tararua and many visitors were disappointed the Fantasy Cave was shut during the week.
The board is discussing ways to increase opening hours in future.
In closing the meeting Hurrell thanked people for attending and said the board looked forward to an exciting and very busy year.