Dancers left unimpressed by floor upgrade

Hall committees across the Mahurangi district are being warned not to let Auckland Council near their wooden floors.

Council varnished the floor of the 96-year-old Ranfurly Hall in Kaipara Flats earlier this year and, according to at least one hall user, has “absolutely ruined it”.

Carolyn Cooper, who manages the Scottish country dancing group that used the hall on a weekly basis, says the floor was one of the best in the district.

“The floor joists were built far enough apart to allow the boards to be naturally flexible,” she says. “The natural bounce on the floor is important for dancers or anyone playing a sport like badminton, because it reduces the likelihood of injury.”

Carolyn says it looks like  polyurethane was poured over the floor, which hardened and sealed the boards together.

“There’s no flexibility left – it has ruined the floor in terms of being of any use for dancing. We’re going to have to move to another hall.

“Council obviously had no idea what they were dealing with or how to treat an old floor like the one in the hall.”

However, Council’s manager for community places, Kevin Marriott, says the floor renewal project included new lino in the kitchen area and a recoat of the polyurethane on the main hall floor to prolong its lifespan.

“This common flooring treatment was approved, carried out correctly and everyone involved was happy with the finished job,” Mr Marriott says.

“Unfortunately, shortly after it was finished, an unsuitable cleaning product and method was used on the floor, leaving it noticeably sticky to hall users. We are aware of the problem and we’re working as quickly as possible to resolve the issue.

“We are happy to arrange an alternative local venue for hall users until the problem is fixed, and again apologise for any inconvenience.”

Mr Marriott said that Council had not received any complaints from hall users regarding a change in floor bounce.

Carolyn says hall committees in the district should be on their guard.

“It would be terrible to see similar floor treatments done at other rural halls, such as Matakana, Whangateau, Puhoi, Pakiri or Port Albert.”

She believes the only way the floor can be repaired is to remove the varnish, which will also involve removing it from the cracks between the boards.

“It would be a huge job,” she says.

Ranfurly Hall Committee chair Keith Conning says complaints from dancers prompted the committee to ask Council to re-look at the way the floor was treated.

“The floor needed treatment,” Keith says. “It’s an old hall that needs continual maintenance.

“Council is being proactive and we’re hoping to find a satisfactory solution.”