Call for new Cromwell centre

Cromwell Cultural Centre Group members (from left) Gillian Watt, James Dicey, Jessie Sutherland, Jocelyn Johnstone and Jackie Hamilton in front of the Cromwell Memorial Hall. The group want to be delegated authority by the Cromwell Community Board so the
Cromwell Cultural Centre Group members (from left) Gillian Watt, James Dicey, Jessie Sutherland, Jocelyn Johnstone and Jackie Hamilton in front of the Cromwell Memorial Hall. The group want to be delegated authority by the Cromwell Community Board so the hall can be demolished and a new multipurpose cultural facility built. Photo: Pam Jones
Cromwell's 60-year-old memorial hall should be demolished and a new multipurpose cultural centre built in its place, a group wanting to steer the future of the hall has said.

But other than an estimated $1million for a feasibility study, the price of a new facility was still not known, Cromwell Cultural Centre Group members told the Cromwell Community Board yesterday.

The future of the 1959 hall has been the subject of discussion within Cromwell for almost 20 years, and various to-ing and fro-ing by successive community boards.

A proposed $5.4million redevelopment was thrown out in 2017 and the hall has been in limbo since then.

The new Cromwell group, which was formed last year, is now seeking delegated authority from the Cromwell Community Board to proceed with its plans to design a new centre, demolish the hall, then build and manage a new facility.

Members of the group said their consultation with Cromwell residents so far showed most wanted a new multipurpose facility built.

More consultation would be done, and the group was also seeking charitable status, which would be ‘‘crucial’’ for gaining funding.

Group member Jackie Hamilton said Cromwell was growing and needed a bigger facility for arts, cultural and community events.

Mrs Hamilton said the group acknowledged there had been ‘‘emotional and difficult times with the hall, and we don’t want to go there’’.

‘‘But we feel like it’s time to draw a line in the sand and move on ...

‘‘The resounding community voice is saying ‘just get on with it’.’’

Group member Jocelyn Johnstone said the group felt strongly any new facility should be driven by the community.

The advantages included utilising the community’s ‘‘passion, drive and resources’’.

Volunteer input would also make it more cost-effective.

But other than the estimated $1million cost of a feasibility study, the cost of the project was still not known, group members said.

‘‘We’re unable to pin down a square metre rate.

‘‘We’re not talking about that and it wouldn’t be right to, because we haven’t figured out what we need yet,’’ group member Jessie Sutherland said.

The group, which made its presentation during the public forum at the board meeting, was advised by board chairman Neil Gillespie its next step needed to be submitting a report to be included in a board agenda.

Group member James Dicey said the group would do that, hopefully with the assistance of council staff, and he hoped the item could be considered at the board’s April or May meeting.

Mr Gillespie said due to the workload of council staff, he could not guarantee that would be possible by April or May.

pam.jones@odt.co.nz

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