Closed hall leaves big gap in community plans

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014

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Riverton community groups lost their home base when Fleck's Hall was closed about a year ago, and the future of the building is now uncertain.

A report from Venture Southland community development officer Juanita Thornton to the Riverton Community Board said that Venture Southland had been working alongside the Fleck's Hall Committee and Guardian Trust about the state of the building and its failure to meet building code standards.

Fleck's Hall met 12.5 per cent of the building code, well below the 34 per cent compliance minimum, the report says.

Western Southland zone Scout leader Dave Frew said the building was built and donated specifically for the use of Riverton's youth in 1934, but was closed about a year ago.

The building is owned by a Dunedin-based trust but run by the Riverton Scouts, he said.

"It was used by Scouts, Cubs and Keas, as well as Pippins, Brownies and Girl Guides . . . but we've had no home. There are no other suitable buildings we can use."

They were hoping to hear what was needed to bring the building up to standard by the end of the month, Mr Frew said.

"I don't think people realise that there isn't another community hall publicly available for community use [in Riverton].

"You wouldn't get anybody keener to fix it than us, but we don't want to chase a wild goose either so we just have to wait. It's frustrating to be caught up in this because it's diverting my time from supporting and training the youth."

Robyn Guyton, of the South Coast Environment Centre, said the centre had often used the hall.

"We used it for the annual Harvest Festival, for Kids Conservation Club, and school group visits."

Many of the buildings in Riverton's main street had not met the compliance minimum, Mrs Guyton said. Otautau and Winton were other towns in Southland with lots of old buildings that would not meet the standards.

"It's closing communities down. I believe the council should just put signs up saying ‘This building isn't earthquake safe. Enter at your own risk'."

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