Neighbours query future of CYF house

UNIMPRESSED: Neighbour Alison Neill thinks renovations to a CYF home in Green St, Tahunanui, make it look like a prison.
UNIMPRESSED: Neighbour Alison Neill thinks renovations to a CYF home in Green St, Tahunanui, make it look like a prison.

An end use for a renovated Child Youth and Family home in Tahunanui has not been decided, but it will not house young offenders, the agency says.

The unoccupied former foster home at 71 Green St has become controversial because CYF has not told the community about its plans.

It led to a public call yesterday from Nelson's deputy mayor Paul Matheson for the department to be transparent as rumours were rife about why it was renovating the home that had been empty since 2007.

The Nelson council has granted a building consent for up to $200,000 worth of work.

Child Youth and Family's southern regional director Chris Harvey told the Nelson Mail yesterday the renovations were part of a nationwide upgrade to bring its homes up to standard, but the work had been suspended for a few weeks until an engineer's report was received.

The agency had not decided what to do with the building, but clarified it would not be used for young offenders.

"Once the renovation has been completed consideration will be given to the best use of the home. This will involve consultation with the community. We are keen for the home to be used in a way that will benefit the Nelson community," Harvey said.

Other than the home being used for several months in 2009 and 2010 by an Open Home Foundation foster family who were waiting to move into another home, it had stood empty since 2007.

Despite "extensive efforts" the agency had not been able to find appropriate foster parents to reopen the home.

Up to four community agencies had approached Child Youth and Family about using the house, but the agency declined because of the property's consented purpose.

It could also not use the house for other purposes, such training or conferences, because of consents and local zoning rules.

From 2007, Harvey said $82,453 had been spent on the building.

Neighbouring residents say they have been frustrated by the lack of information from CYF.

Tony Small, who runs the Asure Fountain Resort Motel that borders the home, said he understood no-one could be found to live-in and manage the home.

"They have this damn building they don't even use for their intended purpose," he said.

"When I see the amount of money that is being blown into that on top of the other money they have spent it's just a total waste of blimmin' taxpayers' money."

Small questioned spending money on doing the house up when it was already liveable

"There was nothing there that you could say gee this isn't very nice," he said. Many people in the community were living in homes of the same standard.

He said the agency needed to be honest about what it was planning for the building.

Small said if CYF was changing what the building would be used for and had not told residents then it had "absolutely gone back on their word of all the promises about how careful and good and structured and everything else they are."

Neighbour Alison Neill has lived on the street since 1959 and remembers when the house was used as a foster home, but said she was not sure what the purpose of the upgrade was.

"They [CYF] were talking about opening it for teenage boys," she said.

She was somewhat worried for her safety and security if young males were going to put into the home and did not think the renovations were very inviting.

"The way they have done the windows . . . is like a prison," she said.

"It doesn't look very nice."

She wanted more updates from the agency about what was happening, and did not mind if the home was reopened if the children behaved themselves.

"I feel sorry for the kids because they had a bad upbringing and it wasn't their fault half of the time," she said.

The Nelson Mail