Council to test out Bunnythorpe plans

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 11/02/2014

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Bunnythorpe's 10-year mission to have a community centre built in the village is getting a nudge along from the Palmerston North City Council.

The Bunnythorpe Public Hall Society has been working on the project for at least a decade, and has raised $109,000 so far.

There is another $240,000 sitting in the Manawatu District Council's Annual Plan, dating back to before the 2012 boundary change that shifted Bunnythorpe from the district into the city.

Another $30,000 has been pledged by the Bunnythorpe School board of trustees from the sale of property to assist with fitting out a new facility.

A deputation led by Bunnythorpe Community Committee chairman Athol Gibson asked the city council's community development committee yesterday for help in getting a feasibility study done to help find a location and refine plans for the centre.

Mr Gibson said Bunnythorpe's population was growing, yet there was no suitable place to host weddings, funerals, sports days, Anzac Day celebrations and other community activities.

"Organisations who have in recent years met in Bunnythorpe are now opting to go to other venues as the facilities are more up-market than the limited facilities available in the village. This, we feel, is detrimental for the ongoing prosperity of the area."

The old public hall was demolished five years ago because it was in such poor condition. Its former site, on Ashhurst-Bunnythorpe Rd, was not considered safe for a new hall because people would have to park on a busy, high-speed route.

The school did not have a hall, and the Methodist School Hall was too small, had no disability access to toilet facilities, and was not considered suitable for many events.

The hall committee wanted the council to consider subdividing a piece of reserve land between Tutaki Rd and Stoney Creek Rd that was currently leased as farm land.

Mr Gibson said the project had reached a point where supporters felt they were "treading water".

Cr Ross Linklater said he had been to several community meetings in Bunnythorpe and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of work that had already been done to secure a new centre.

"Because of the enthusiasm of this group, we should support it."

Cr Grant Smith said it was great to meet a group who had already done so much work and fundraising. Cr Susan Baty said she had never met such an enthusiastic bunch, and Cr Lew Findlay predicted they would create an asset for the city.

The recommendation that staff explore options and costs and report back by May was unanimously supported.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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