$600,000 upgrade to go ahead

A computer-generated image of the Omarama Hall redevelopment. Image supplied.
A computer-generated image of the Omarama Hall redevelopment. Image supplied.

Plans to redevelop the Omarama Memorial Hall into a $600,000 state-of-the-art community centre are to go ahead after the Lotteries Grants Board awarded the Omarama Residents Association a $290,000 grant.

Locals had been fundraising and applying for charitable grants for the past three and a-half years, in order to rebuild the 60-year-old hall. Omarama Residents Association treasurer Glenys Dawson said the Lotteries grant would mean the project could now be fully funded.

''We had $400,000 from various sources that we had raised already and so this will take us to $690,000."

Mr. Dawson said the upgraded community centre would include a gymnasium and a 50sq m extension to house a Plunket and meeting room, and a medical consultation facility. It would also have broadband internet facilities and would benefit the whole community for many years to come.

The existing hall had been built in 1952 and was ''costing a fortune'' in ongoing repairs and maintenance, she said.

''The outside structure is fine but we are going to move the kitchen, upgrade all the plumbing, all the wiring, the windows and re-line it, but also create an extended consulting-type room that will be available for the doctor or for someone to hire out.

''Everybody will benefit - it will be great. Even our local school doesn't have a hall and gymnasium so they have to come and use that too. The whole thing will be a benefit for the wellbeing of our whole community."

Community consultation would take place before any building workbegan, to ensure that some items from the original building could be saved, Mr. Dawson said.

''There are quite a few memories there for locals so we are doing a bit of consultation in the final fit-out to make sure memories are kept."

Funding had already been provided by the Otago Community Trust, Meridian Energy, the Alexander McMillan Trust and the Waitaki District Council.

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz