The Warkworth Scouting Trust is proposing to take on management of Shoesmith Hall to accommodate more groups, which could bring down the cost of hall hireage.
The trust built the scout hall on Shoesmith Street 20 years ago and about 400 people from a variety of community groups use it each week, including scouts, tai chi and ballroom dancing.
But it is looking to develop different spaces to better cater for different community groups and wants to use Shoesmith Hall, which is directly across the road from the scouts.
Trust chair Paul Decker presented to the Rodney Local Board on July 11 and said it wanted to have different spaces for active and “passive” groups. At the moment, all groups from mahjong to indoor soccer, use the same space, which wasn’t ideal, he said.
The trust would invest about $50,000 to bring Shoesmith Hall up to scratch and use it as a meeting space for community groups and make the scout hall focused on active activities. The catch – it wants a 33-year lease on the building.
“We don’t require anything from Auckland Council,” Mr Decker said. “We’ve got enough funds to do it ourselves. We’ve shown we can do this successfully.”
But he said the long-term lease was essential to encourage people to give back to the hall and make any investment worthwhile.
People were more prepared to fundraise and volunteer their time towards cleaning and renovating the hall if they knew it was going to be a facility that would serve the community for years to come, he said.
“If the community wants it, they should manage it, fund it, and look after it. We’ve found user groups take pride in the hall and look after it. But it has to be there long-term. A short-term lease would divorce that connection.”
If they secured the lease, the trust planned to install further heating, insulation and double-glazing.
The presentation comes after the Board agreed to increase the fees at Council-managed halls by more than 300 per cent, which has seen the cost of hiring Shoesmith Hall increase from $11 an hour to $34. Many users of Shoesmith Hall said they would be unable to meet the price hike and would look for new facilities.
By contrast, it costs about $6 an hour to hire the scout hall. Mr Decker says fees for community groups at Shoesmith Hall would likely significantly decrease if the trust took over management.
The proposal comes after the Board introduced a new policy last month, which allows community groups to take on management of Council halls.
If the Board decides to investigate the proposal, it would be open to public consultation.