Whangarei's Forum North is a fine facility for a town the size of "The 'Rei".
In 1980. It's 2018.
The portion of the building that houses Whangarei District Council staff has already been expanded substantially once - the current main entrance and office used to be a bar, imaginatively named "The Forum".
The conference/exhibition hall is inadequate for large scale events, the complex's saving grace is the Capitaine Bougainville Theatre which is perfect for intimate theatre and musical performances.
So what does the council do?
I would suggest the council be bold. And move.
The refurbishment cost of Forum North is comparative to a new build.
So do the new build. The council has previously looked at land owned by The Neil Group on Dent St, adjacent to the Town Basin.
Look there again - Neil Group is a progressive development company, but they don't back losers.
Their presence as landowners in Whangarei suggests they see potential in the district. And they are keen to put something in front of the council, let's see it.
The WDC is a key part of the CBD infrastructure, and they're in the wrong place.
A new premises near the Town Basin would help kick-start the process of developing the CBD between Dent St and Cameron St.
And if the cost is comparable to refurbishing Forum North, then why not do it?
Councillors need to consider the interests of their town, and not themselves, in this instance.
There is no large scale "tenant" waiting in the wings to establish themselves in Whangarei and help the town grow.
If our council has the lateral ability to think beyond the obvious and remain prudent arbiters of ratepayer funds, it has a wonderful opportunity in front of it to construct something much more than office space for staff.