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Tuesday, 23 April 2019 10:01 am

Bowling club sale to benefit community but some locals unhappy

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THE SALE of Vogelmorn Bowling Club could put a million dollars into a community trust – but some locals would rather have the building.

The bowling club, put on the market two weeks ago, wound up earlier this year but residents are keen to keep it for the community.

Club Committee Treasurer Paul Burgess says all proceeds would go into a foundation.

The foundation would benefit the community and be used for scholarships or grants for sporting, art, or academic opportunities, he says.

But Vogeltown resident David Bagnall says the sale of the club would be a missed opportunity because the community lacks facilities.

The need for more space for social and educational activities in the community is great, says Mr Bagnall.

“We think there’s a far better outcome for the community than simply selling the property.”

The 1012 sq m property includes clubrooms and a separate two-bedroom cottage, both valued at $980,000 according to the Harcourts listing.

The site does not include the green however, which is owned by the Wellington City Council.

South Ward Councillor Paul Eagle says if the club is sold, the green could be used as additional space for the adjacent Vogelmorn Hall or for affordable housing options.

But Mr Eagle would like to see the club retained as a community facility and is looking into options that include buying the property.

“I think the key priority is to try and secure the purchase of it,” he says.

But he says any sale of the club will not affect the Vogelmorn Hall.

The hall was to be sold off in 2012 by the council but backed down after residents opposed the sale.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Mr Eagle says.

The bowls club committee has heard the residents’ concerns.

“We let them hold an open day. They’ve had meetings down in Brooklyn Village, and they’ve had meetings in the community hall here,” says Mr Burgess.

But he says the council will no longer lease the green to them because the council says it is underutilised.

“Without a green, we don’t have a bowling club.”

Mr Burgess also says ongoing costs like insurance, maintenance, rates, utilities, and earthquake repair costs have all contributed to the decision to sell.

As well as a local resident, Mr Bagnall is involved in the Kaka Project, a community-led consultation group that looks at community facilities in the wider Brooklyn area.

The group has met with both the city council and the bowling club committee about saving the club.

There are various people in the artistic community interested in being tenants and using it for rehearsal and workspace, says Mr Bagnall.

The club could be used for wedding receptions and other occasions, which can generate income, he says.

“That’s what we’re suggesting, there could be an underlying tenancy agreement providing for flexible community use space.”

Another local resident, Jo Randerson runs a drama company which uses the club for storage and rehearsing.

“For us it’s been great because it’s created a space that otherwise wasn’t there,” she says.

Mrs Randerson would like to see the space shared by a variety of groups in a way which brings people together in the community.

Grants are great, but they would most likely just use the money to rent space, she says.

The bowling club committee says membership started falling about 10 years ago.

“All clubs are struggling because no one wants to belong. It’s not a case of bowls are dying, it’s a case of all clubs are dying,” says club committee member Paul Hooper.

Everyone belonged to clubs and gave up their time and weekends for it but these days nobody wants to belong, he says.

“Society has changed,” says Mr Burgess.

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