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Tuesday, 23 April 2019 10:01 am

Vogelmorn Foundation to decide the future of bowling club

Bowling club score board

NOT SOLD: Residents still might score victory to retain bowling club for community. IMAGE: Liam Cavanagh

VOGELMORN Bowling Club land and buildings might yet be saved for the community. 

The club committee met residents and Wellington city councillors two weeks ago before going into a closed-door meeting to decide the club’s future.

Acting secretary Omri Ash said that in the private meeting the club decided to wind up and hand over all the assets to the Vogelmorn Foundation, which has been established by the club.

“The trustees of the foundation will decide what to do with the assets,” said Ash, who would not answer further questions.

Southern ward city councillor Paul Eagle is optimistic the community’s recent proposal will be considered in that process.

The land and buildings were put on the market in August and the club was hoping to sell them for about $1 million, but they failed to sell.

The club committee decided earlier this year to sell and create a community trust fund, despite residents’ protests that the building should be retained for community use.

Club treasurer Paul Burgess said at the time low membership numbers, earthquake damage, ongoing costs and council’s decision not to lease the green (which it owns) back to the club contributed to the decision to sell.

Burgess said proceeds from the sale would go into a foundation to be used for scholarships and grants for sports, art or academic opportunities for the community.

But residents opposed the sale and said the need for community spaces was far greater.

During the meeting two weeks ago, the club committee heard a proposal from the Vogelmorn Community Group, supported by the city council.

The group proposed the club be used as a multi-purpose facility for arts and sports clubs, community functions and meetings, and, on certain occasions, a fundraising coffee cart.

It would also incorporate Vogelmorn Hall and the green to become a hub or precinct for Vogeltown, Kingston and Mornington residents.

The land and buildings would also be owned by the community group with arts groups as tenants.

Vogelmorn Community Group member David Bagnall said the sale would have been a missed opportunity.

“The community already lacks facilities and spaces,” he said.

Vogeltown resident Jo Randerson rents the club for rehearsals for her drama company, Barbarian Productions.

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

But Randerson said that though grants were great, her company would most likely use the money to rent space.

Eagle said he was optimistic the community’s recent proposal would be considered, but was sad about the loss of another bowls club in the area.

“It’s the second club to close in five years. It’s an end of an era for bowling in Wellington, but whatever the outcome, there’s a community benefit,” Eagle said.

The Wellington Bowling Club in Brooklyn, the oldest in the region, closed in 2011 owing to dwindling membership and unsustainable operation costs.

The clubrooms were retained for functions and community events and the council turned the green into a sports training ground.

Eagle said the Vogelmorn club’s decision for now was a win-win situation for residents and community groups.

“It gives the Vogelmorn Community Group a chance to improve and refine the proposal in the meantime,” he said.

Eagle said the council was open to options that included buying the land and buildings, but that was dependent on the Kaka project.

The Kaka project is a community driven consultation process that looks at facilities and resources in the wider Brooklyn area.

He said Kaka had been pivotal to engaging with the council and the Vogelmorn club committee.

“We’re riding a lot of community aspirations on the Kaka project,” he said.

Vogelmorn Bowling Club and greem

BOWLING GREEN: The Vogelmorn Bowling Club in August when it was on the market. IMAGE: Liam Cavanagh


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