Centre given $95,000

The plan to turn Omarama's Memorial Hall into a multi-purpose community centre has received a boost, with a grant taking fundraising to half what is needed.

The Community Trust of Otago has made a $95,000 grant towards the $750,000 project, taking funds in hand to $375,000 in little more than six months. That has raised the hope construction work on the project can start early next year.

The Omarama Residents' Association is leading the project, first mooted in August 2009.

Its treasurer, Glenys Dawson, said the community trust grant was a major boost, added to $85,000 from the Meridian Energy community fund and $161,000 from the Waitaki District Council from the sale of the town's medical centre.

The rest had come from fundraising and donations.

The association hoped to hear from another major grants source next year.

The construction work is expected to cost just over $500,000, with the rest being used to provide equipment, furnishings, landscaping and additional sports and recreation facilities if the $750,000 target can be reached.

Already, about $12,000 has been spent on draughting and other fees.

The positive start to fundraising has boosted confidence construction work could start early next year.

The multi-purpose community centre was identified as a major project for the association when it was first formed.

The present complex has the hall and an annexe, used by the play group which would be in the new complex, along with kitchen, toilets and foyer facilities.

But the community felt greater use could be made of the building by including a medical centre, facilities for civil defence and to cater for increased tourism expected from the Alps to Ocean cycleway. The site was also identified for centralising some sports facilities, including new community tennis courts.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz