'Definite need' for town youth facility

Last updated 15:36 12/03/2014

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There is a strong desire to have a youth centre in Blenheim, preferably near the skate park, Marlborough Youth Trust members say.

Depending on whether a building was built from scratch or an existing one renovated, the project could cost between $400,000 and $1 million, a feasibility report says.

Trust spokesmen Russ Smith and Russell Montgomery told the Marlborough District Council's community and finance committee yesterday that the feasibility study showed there was definitely a need for a youth centre.

Both emphasised the committee's support for the project would be in principle only, with a lot of work to be done before the project could progress.

Young people wanted a centre, Mr Montgomery said, and groups that worked with youth were also supportive.

"Youth say Marlborough is boring, there's nothing to do. Adults have pubs to go to, youth don't. It's either the streets or home."

Mr Montgomery said the centre was "a big ask" but the trust believed it was warranted. There would be other sources of funding to call on as well as the council's ratepayer funds.

Councillor Brian Dawson said that given Marlborough's demographic, the council should be supporting a centre for elderly people.

"This is an excellent report, but it's not the only area where we have needs."

Mr Smith said the trust had talked about ways young people could work with older people to benefit from their experience, and it was "not beyond the realms of fantasy" that the proposed centre could include older people in some areas.

Mr Montgomery said while there was a decline in youth numbers now, there was an increasing number of 5-year-olds in Marlborough, so there were youth coming through.

Asked by Mr Dawson and councillor Terry Sloan about potential locations, Mr Montgomery said the trust would rather not have the centre as part of a proposed library and community hub building, but a central location would be good.

"It would be much better if it was near the skate park actually."

Other locations suggested included the library site on Arthur St, by the stadium, and the potential combined colleges' site, he said, but there were other possibilities that could work.

"You can't just plonk them anywhere and expect it to be successful. You can't just build a building and expect youth to use it."

Councillors were supportive of the project, but nervous about the potential costs. They agreed that committee chairman John Leggett, councillors Cynthia Brooks and Laressa Shenfield, and Mayor Alistair Sowman work with the trust to develop the proposal to the next stage, including more work on its budget.

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- The Marlborough Express


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