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Groups in limbo

ADRIAN EVANS
Last updated 08:01 26/02/2013
Gym City
ADRIAN EVANS
GAME OVER: Rowena Deadman and Harry Kay, 4, in Papatoetoe Gym City, which is struggling to find new premises.

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Plans to build affordable housing could see some Papatoetoe community groups going homeless if they can't find new premises.

That prospect comes on the back of Auckland Council's decision to build 65 two-and three-bedroom terraced houses on the former St George Tavern car park and another nearby council site The Depot on Cambridge Tce.

One of the The Depot's tenants, Gym City has been providing programmes for children for 30 years.

"We've known that this is going to happen but we haven't found anywhere we could afford because we're a non-profit organisation and the rents are too high in Manukau," Gym City manager Rowena Deadman says.

Around 150 fulltime members and more than 1000 schoolchildren use the gym every year and Ms Deadman is keen to stay in Papatoetoe.

"The council has been really helpful trying to find us a suitable venue but it's really difficult.

"We'd like to stay in Papatoetoe and that's our biggest issue," Ms Deadman says.

Parent Simon Kay, whose son Harry is a gym member, made a submission to the Otara Papatoetoe Local Board opposing the development.

"I've been aware that they're going to be turfed out," Mr Kay says.

"It'll be a huge loss for the community if the gym goes because they're not going to get another facility like this without having to pay a huge amount of money - unless the council are going to front and provide them with one?"

The other end of the building houses a number of other community groups including a Pasifika social service, a Cambodian youth trust, the Papatoetoe Historical Society's museum and a budgeting service.

Papatoetoe historian Jenny Clark says the society is talking to council officers about options for the museum.

"We are just awaiting the outcome on the matter."

But the mood is different across the car park at the Papatoetoe skating rink.

The rink is being forced to close after 49 years to make way for a new road and the housing and retail development.

Papatoetoe Roller Sports Club president Brent Mudford has confirmed the club has taken legal advice and that a letter is on its way to Auckland Council.

The club is protected by an article in its deed of lease with the Papatoetoe City Council which dates back to 1972, he says.

"It'll fire a shot across their bow and we'll see how the council reacts to the letter."

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- Manukau Courier

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