Levin's RSA, legal owners of the RSA Bowling Club on Salisbury Street, has put the land and buildings up for sale via Ray White. The 2560 sq m of land is described as having residential development potential, with a clear back entrance on Clark Street.
It is estimated it could change hands from anywhere between $589,000 to $719,000, according to the webpage where the sale is being promoted. It was listed in March. Its pictures show a beautiful green, ready to be played on, and that is what it looks like today, because maintenance of an artificial green maintenance is minimal.
The sales blurb stipulates that the RSA committee has indicated it would like to keep a walkthrough from Salisbury Street as a memorial for members who have passed away, so the buyer will have to accept there will be a caveat added to the title that protects this small piece of land from the subdivision.
On behalf of the Clark family, Kevin Clark laments the sale of land that his great grandmother, Maud Lett, formerly Maud Clark, bequeathed for a bowling green after World War II to aid those who returned home from the war.
"She thought a sport which did not require a lot of physical energy would be good for the returned servicemen. It still required the use of the brain, technical skill and concentration, but it was also a social event, which also encompassed women."
He said he believed the RSA is selling it off to pay debts incurred on its Devon Street property. "Its members are getting old, are dying and the numbers are diminishing, like at every RSA in the country. Many RSAs are run by members who are not business people, and though this is starting to change now, for many of them it will be too late."
The Levin RSA Bowling Green is the only all-weather green in town and Clark believes sound business people will be able to resurrect it. "If all retirement villages congregated there it will be full to overflowing. Of course it will need younger people to join to survive long term.
"Many of us go to ANZAC ceremonies to remember our relatives who went to war. If this bowling green is sold it will also be a thing of the past, and probably soon forgotten. Once sold, it will be gone for good. Are bowling greens a thing of the past?
"How many times do we regret selling things off and then after the fact we wish we could claim them back, to no avail?"
Attempts to sell the property to repay debts were made and stalled in 2015 and 2020, and in 2020 the RSA bowling folded. At this time other clubs proposed mergers (Women's Bowling Club) or renting out the green to other clubs to save it.
The council declined to try and save it too. In a postal ballot the RSA members voted to sell the property in October 2020.
Kevin Clark called for the local business community to step in, buy the property and revive the bowling club.
Garry Clark, who led the protest against the sale a few years ago, said the memorial lane should run through the property onto Clark Street. "As it is, no-one is going to walk through it. It would be used a lot more if it went all the way to the other side."
Disclosure documents on the sale states that the entrance to the property via Salisbury Street is partially owned by 21 Clark Street. This is a paper road going into that property and runs alongside the memorial lane, with a small gate by the bowling club rooms into that property, according to the RSA president Wayne Kaye.
"It has all been properly surveyed and we will retain the lane, though not own it. But we will look after it," Kaye said.
The sale of the property on Salisbury Street will help the Levin RSA sustain its services to returned servicemen, said Kaye. It's an aim supported by senior members of the Clark family, he said.
The clubrooms at Devon Street are also hosts to the community hub Te Whare Mahana, while the caterers formerly at Western House use the kitchen and a lounge area for their business as well as running Meals on Wheels from there.
The proceeds from the annual Poppy Day sales remain in Levin and are used to help returned servicemen and their families financially. Volunteers go around helping them and their families with groceries, lawn mowing, and anything else they may need, said Kaye.
"We are all volunteers and ordinary people who try to keep the RSA going, so returned servicemen and women will be looked after for the foreseeable future."
The Levin RSA will be hosting the Returned Services Association Women's Section annual conference, for the second year in a row, at the end of the month.