Mt Pleasant locals reject school plea

Mt Pleasant's community centre will rebuilt on the flat after residents voted 68-32 in favour at a meeting last night.

There wasn't a counter proposal on the table, but opposition coalesced around building a joint community centre and school hall in conjunction with Mt Pleasant School, which is up the hill. The community hall and the school hall were badly damaged in the February 2011 quake and the community hall has been demolished.

With the community hall now returning to its existing site at 3 McCormacks Bay Rd beside the Estuary, the association moves into a design phase and then starts fundraising.

The association is underinsured and has $1.4 million available for a rebuild, the meeting heard. It's thought a new building, capable of hosting up to 200 people will cost about $3m.

The school wants a hall capable of holding about 500 people. It probably doesn't have room on its grounds for such a facility but sections around its border may come onto the market due to quake damage and demolitions.

School principal Chris Nord asked the meeting, ''Can we have a little bit more time to make sure we get it right?''

This was denied with some bitterness on both sides. Marty Anderson, chair of the school board of trustees, resigned from the community association board last week, over ''poor consultation'' between the school and the community association. He had a ''conflict of interest'', claimed community co-ordinator and former local body politician Linda Rutland.

Both sides made sweet noises about working together and then accused the other of ineffective communication. The school board and the community board never met.

The existing site for the community hall - a ''big community lounge'', in the words of community association president Jocelyn Papprill - was favoured despite risks from liquefaction, floods and sea level rise. The meeting was told these could be mitigated through foundation design. 

The community board hopes the rebuilt centre will link with the Coastal Pathway, a proposed 6.5km walking and cycling track running from Ferrymead to Scarborough. Rutland chairs the Coastal Pathway Group.

Unlike most community centres in Christchurch, the Mt Pleasant Memorial Community Centre is owned by residents and not the city council. This conferred independence on the Port Hills neighbourhood, the meeting was told.

Entering into complex legal arrangements with the Education Ministry for some kind of joint hall on the school site would be unwise.

In any event, the ministry should fund school buildings, not rely on resident contributions, the meeting heard.

More than 4000 people live on Mt Pleasant and 100 votes were cast last night.

The Press