Parents keen to save Sacred Heart hostel

ROB KIDD
Last updated 13:00 10/11/2010

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Some parents are vowing to fight plans to close a Hamilton Catholic school's boarding hostel.

A letter from the college proprietors, the Mission Trust Board, to parents last week said Euphrasie House at Sacred Heart Girls' College would be closed by 2012 because it was an earthquake risk.

Strengthening and refurbishing the hostel in Clyde St, Hamilton East, may cost $2.5-3.5 million with a total rebuild costing up to $8m.

The board is yet to decide the building's fate but parents who contacted the Waikato Times said they would do everything in their power to keep it open.

Opotiki's Dean Petersen, who has one daughter at the college hostel and another starting next year, said he was prepared to "hang in there and fight". "We'll try and fight and see what we can do – there's got to be funding or something out there."

Mr Petersen said his daughter had shone in her three years in the hostel and he was keen for his younger daughter to get the same opportunity. "In a hostel they just become stronger, independent young women."

The closure will not affect hostel management committee member Phil Daniels, whose daughter will have left the school by the time the hostel shuts, but he said he would stay on the committee another 10 years if he could. "I'm that passionate about the place. I'm about trying to keep the place going. I think there's a chance of pursuing other avenues."

Waikato/Bay of Plenty branch of the NZ Institute of Architects president Andrew Bydder said if the building was bulldozed it would be a sad loss to the city, but safety was important.

Although he would love to preserve the three-storey building, he acknowledged earthquake strengthening was a costly process.

Euphrasie House is ranked as a "category B" building by the Hamilton City Council and resource consent would be required if it was to be demolished.

Mission Trust Board chairperson Lee Jaques said the board would not subsidise the running of the hostel or carry the cost for any improvements, but if anyone had ideas to save Euphrasie House the board would listen.

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- Waikato Times

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