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Bowls club in strife

AMY MCGILLIVRAY
Last updated 05:00 10/09/2010
BOWLS
FIONA GOODALL
BOWLED OVER: Rawhiti Bowling Club president Eric Rawson says there is no longer enough interest in bowls to keep the club viable. The 97-year-old club has applied to have its land rezoned so it can be sold.

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MEMBERSHIP and financial woes are forcing a 97-year-old bowling club to consider closure and the sale of its land.

The Rawhiti Bowling Club in Remuera is applying to have the property rezoned with the intention of selling.

The prospect of rezoning is a concern to residents who want to retain the open green space.

Club president Eric Rawson says there are half as many bowlers in the east and bays as there were 11 years ago.

Remuera is home to two clubs.

"It comes back to members. Membership is going down – bowls is not the only sport that it's happening to," he says.

The lack of members makes finances tight and also means less competition within the ranks. Only one member has played at national level.

"There's no logical justification for two bowling clubs in Remuera," Mr Rawson says. "One of these days we're going to have to face the inevitable."

Any decision to sell will be made by the members.

Residents say it would be a shame to lose such a long-standing facility.

But they are more concerned the open space may become heavily developed.

The club – on the corner of Rangitoto Ave and Ranui Rd – is applying to have the zoning changed from open space 3 to residential 5.

That would allow one residential unit per 500 square metres of land.

Ara St resident Jude Eades says ideally the club would stay but the next best option would be a public park.

"I'm into keeping the green space," she says.

"If there's some available we should keep it for future generations."

Ms Eades is also concerned any new development will detract from the street's character.

"We all have heritage houses down here and if it does go residential we're concerned about what will go there."

Resident Troy Churton plans to formally oppose the rezoning application when it is open to submissions.

"Recreational zoned land is a dying resource. Save it for something else. I'm against the residential zoning full stop."

Hobson Community Board chairwoman Desley Simpson is looking into how to retain some of the land as a park.

"I don't think you can have too much open space," she says.

Auckland City Council streets and open spaces manager Emma Golightly says it is unlikely the council will buy the land because it has already allocated its 10-year budget for acquisition of open spaces.

She says there is a need for more sports fields but the site is too small and there are two other parks nearby – Waiata Reserve and Little Rangitoto Reserve.

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- East And Bays Courier

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