Hall presents challenge as hearings start

Balclutha War Memorial Hall. PHOTO: JACK CONROY

Opinion is split on proposed improvements to Balclutha’s War Memorial Hall, in advance of Clutha’s annual plan hearings this morning.

In its submission document the Clutha District Council proposed two options for upgrading the 58-year-old hall.

Option 1 is a “patch-up”, at an estimated cost of $4 million-$5 million; option 2 is a new, multipurpose “hub” costing $15 million, $7.5 million of which would be ratepayer-funded.

The council received 30 submissions relating to the project, of which 13 favoured option 1, and 17 option 2.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said balancing those views would be a “challenge” for the council.

“Do we spend $5 million to stick with a hall that’s shown it struggles, or show confidence and proceed with caution on option 2?

“I still vehemently believe in our district’s positive future, and that we need to break the inertia with the many transformative projects we’ve proposed.”

Those submitting against a rebuild had concerns ranging from its cost in a challenging economy to retaining an ‘”conic” building honouring local service people.

In one submission, Neville King, of Balclutha, said he “felt quite sick at hearing our memorial hall could be demolished”.

Mr Cadogan acknowledged a polarity of views within the community, while moving to reassure ratepayers on the subject of cost.

“Funding is already in place for either option, without council breaching its self-imposed rates cap [4%].

“I’m aware of concerns around rates increases, but believe we can take heart from the resilience our local economy has shown recently.”

The council will finalise annual plan decisions on May 14.

Otago Daily Times