It was standing room only in the cavernous lounge of the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA for an extraordinary general meeting held on May 7.
Five hundred of its 3500 members were present and the atmosphere was tense: this was the second time in a month that members had been called together to vote on options needed to save the organisation from closure.
The RSA, in Whangaparaoa, is deep in debt and has been running on empty for some time, due to falling income from its restaurant and bar. A few especially bad months at the end of last year were enough to force members to face losing the club, or finding ways to urgently bring in a large cash injection (HM April 12).
This time, it was a simple Yes/No vote on the proposition to sell a piece of land that it owns at 20 Melia Place. The vote had to be won by a two-thirds majority of those present.
The 94 percent acceptance of the proposal stunned President Frank Coggan. “It was way beyond my beliefs and hopes,” he said. “It was clear that most of the members realised they had to give us a ‘yes’ or they wouldn’t have their club.”
The sloping site is around half a hectare, just above the bowling club. Crosses are placed on it each ANZAC Day but these can be located elsewhere. It is zoned residential and Mr Coggan understands around eight homes could be built on it under the Unitary Plan provisions. The land is yet to be valued but is expected to fetch around $1.5–$2 million. “It means we can pay our creditors and get back on an even keel,” Mr Coggan says.
An upgrade of the club is also possible. Mr Coggan says that options include renovating the existing clubrooms or upgrading the bowling club building and shifting the clubrooms down there – the latter would provide the option of selling a further chunk of the club’s 2.8ha site, which has access to Vipond Road.
Mr Coggan says the decision to sell 20 Melia Place comes as the club’s kitchen is again busy, selling more than 100 meals some nights to crowds who have come to see live entertainment.
Despite the cash injection, it is that ongoing profitability that will determine the future of the club. To break even it needs to bring in $150,000 every month.
“The money from the sale of land is only a band aid,” Mr Coggan says. “The executive need to sort out our operating costs and get the club into profit mode. We also need to find ways to attract a bigger percentage of members to the RSA on a regular basis.”
It is expected that the land will go up for tender shortly.