Demolition delayed

.University of Otago Squash Club president Robert Fridd is pleased the club is allowed to remain...
.University of Otago Squash Club president Robert Fridd is pleased the club is allowed to remain in its clubrooms for another year. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
A delay of the demolition of the University of Otago Squash Club courts and clubrooms in North Dunedin is allowing play to continue for another year. But this is on the provision the club can pay its own operating costs. Shawn McAvinue reports.

The University of Otago Squash Club premises in Union St includes three courts, an upstairs viewing gallery, bar, kitchen and changing rooms, but the building is in need of repair.

Its owner, the Otago University Students’ Association, gave the building to the University of Otago at the end of 2018 on the provision the club could stay for a year to give it time to search for a new premises.

Club president Robert Fridd, of Havelock North, said the university recently agreed to extend the deadline and allow the club to stay until the end of September next year.

"It was very generous of the university."

The association stopped paying the operating costs for the building, such as the power bill, this month.

Consequently, the club committee members were creating a budget to ensure it could cover operation costs for the next year.

"We are quietly confident."

University property services director Dean Macaulay said the university had allowed the club to stay another year because the intended use of the site — for a capital project — had been delayed and the squash courts were safe for use.

The university’s intention was to demolish the building, and use the land for research and teaching activities.

Maintenance of the facility was being kept to an "absolute minimum".

"The agreement with the club is that they will be asked to vacate the premises if it becomes unsafe or requires significant expenditure."

Association recreation manager Michaela Tangimetua said the association’s primary concern about owning the building was the amount of expenditure on a limited percentage of student population.

"[The] membership base was 150 and not all of them were students. The building was in poor condition and needed significant work."

The club was founded in 1968.

The scores of photos on the wall in the lounge bar range from a men’s team from the 1970s, sporting long sideburns and holding wooden racquets, to more recent events of members dancing singing karaoke and wearing fancy dress.

"There is a lot of history in this building," Mr Fridd said.

The club had about 65 members — about 35 competitive and the rest were casual.

The membership was down on past years, impacted by factors such as fewer international students in the city due to Covid-19 restrictions and the uncertainty of the club securing a facility.


The story so far

University of Otago Squash Club
1968: Club founded.
2015: Otago University Students'
Association raises concerns about
managing the club’s facility in
Union St.
2018:  Association begins
consultation with the club about
how to mitigate its concerns.
Late 2018: Association decides to
discontinue managing the facility
and gives the building to the
University of Otago. The club is
given until the end of 2019 to find a
new premises.
End of 2019: Club begins
negotiations with the university for
extension of occupation – the latest
being to the end of September next

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