Hall facing an uncertain future

Another West Otago hall may face closure unless a funding boost can be found.

Following a community decision to demolish the district’s 65-year-old Dunrobin Hall in October last year, Waikoikoi Public Hall — about 30km to the southwest — may be next for the chop.

Hall committee secretary Geoff Stark said an annual meeting tonight would be critical in deciding the 62-year-old facility’s future.

"At the moment we’re sitting on the borderline financially, and we want to see what the community thinks.

"Is there the support here to help with fundraising, or are people going, ‘To heck with the hall. We don’t need it’?"

He said the hall had suffered from declining use for several years which, combined with rising electricity costs, meant overheads now exceeded income.

 Waikoikoi Public Hall secretary Geoff Stark says unsustainable running costs may force the...
Waikoikoi Public Hall secretary Geoff Stark says unsustainable running costs may force the closure of the rural West Otago facility. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

"There’s little in the way of reserves, and improvements to the main hall heating meant we had to move to a commercial rate for power, which has really stuffed our costs.

"We need money to actually keep it going."

Although clubs including indoor shooting, badminton, bowls, drama and Young Farmers used to keep the hall accounts buoyant, nowadays only two groups used it regularly, he said.

"It just reflects a change in society at large. People have so many options today and, if you need a hall, there’s Tapanui 10 minutes away."

Mr Stark said he and others would be "disappointed" to see the hall demolished, and would prefer it were repurposed if the community decided to wind up its civic service.

Last year it received a 60% NBS seismic safety rating as part of a district-wide review.

"It’s a fairly sound structure with good bones. Maybe somebody would want to change it into a house?"

He encouraged local residents to attend the hall’s annual meeting, at 7.30 tonight.

"We’re ready to hear any bright ideas."


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