$660,000 upgrade planned for rowing complex

The Invercargill Rowing Club is planning a $660,000 upgrade to its clubhouse on the Oreti River in the hope it will help take the sport in the south to another level.

Club members have been working hard on plans and raising their own funds to bankroll the project, which they hope can be started by April.

The club expects it can pull in $50,000 through its fundraising and donated goods and services.

However, despite this hard work, the decision as to whether the planned development will go ahead will ultimately rest with community funders the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Community Trust of Southland.

The proposed plans are tipped to cost about $660,000 and most of that would have to be met by the funders.

The Invercargill Rowing Club was formed in 1875 and has a proud history, which includes winning the Rowing New Zealand club of the year award in 2007.

The existing club facilities on the bank of the Oreti River were built in 1958 and little had been done to them since.

Club spokesman Gavin McKenzie, who has been one of the driving forces behind the proposed development said the club had run into problems with the evolution of the sport since the building was built more than 50 years ago.

In 1958 rowing was a male-dominated sport but now a lot of the club members were females.

It had meant having to create makeshift changing areas to cater for both sexes.

In the proposed upgrade, new changing rooms would be built, toilets upgraded and the gym area doubled.

A cafe-meeting-type area would also be introduced if the funding could be pulled together.

The current club complex is a concrete block building but the plan was to modernise it to make installing technical electrical training equipment easy to operate.

McKenzie said the club catered for all types of members – from recreational rowers through top-level competitors.

The Invercargill Rowing Club is situated next to Southland's second big rowing club Waihopai.

McKenzie was aware some people would ask why a merger couldn't take place to build a complex that catered for both clubs on the Oreti River.

However, he and other Southland rowing folk believed it was vital to keep the two clubs independent to help maintain the healthy rivalry that drove the sport.

The club will soon be advised whether the Invercargill Licensing Trust Foundation will approve its application, while the Community Trust of Southland will announce its major funding contributions in March.

The Southland Times