Deveron St groups make their case before council
Citizens from throughout Invercargill restated their pleas to save the youth centre at 10 Deveron St, at an Invercargill City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop and the Invercargill Secondary Schools Network, as well as members of the public, made their case before the council.
In December 2016, both organisations were told their lease at 10 Deveron St would not be renewed by the council.
Space was in short supply at the meeting, with the crowd overflowing out into the foyer of the council chambers.
The crowd in attendance comprised not just supporters of Number 10, but also members of the Invercargill Citizens Bowling Club.
Both groups presented petitions to the council to renew their current lease: 1592 from Number 10/Invercargill Secondary Schools Network, and 1800 from the Invercargill Citizens Bowling Club.
At the conclusion of the presentations, the council reiterated the fact no decision had yet been made, and gave its reasons for considering selling the land.
Number 10 chairman Graham Fletcher said any move to a new premises would affect the organisations' ability to provide their current level of services.
"As a student, I studied economics and learned the difference between price and cost. They are very different.
"Should you decide to accept the price offered by the developer, the cost in this case can be measured in social terms, where young lives will be affected and public money which could be used for our city's benefit is wasted."
Fletcher said they had been approached by a "generous benefactor", who had offered to fund the purchase of the property to provide long-term security to the current lessees.
Invercargill Schools Principals Group chairman Andy Wood said the Secondary Schools Network provided a special service to the community.
"Different kids need different things; what we provide [here] is a range of interventions and programmes for kids who need a different sort of assistance.
"The last thing we needed was to be spending all of our time wondering where we were going to accommodate our programme and our students, and this has been a huge distraction."
Roger Hodgkinson said retaining the property would be in the best interests of Invercargill in the long term.
"Those are key properties that should be kept and retained and utilised in your future master planning.
"Once lost out of the public realm, [they] can't really be recovered."
Sue Smith said it would be a good legacy for the council to be remembered as the one that saved, rather than sold, Number 10.
Councillor Ian Pottinger said he wanted to make it clear that a decision had not yet been made by the council.
"The whole reason this started wasn't because of a council resolution, it came from a meeting of [committee] chairs [in 2016].
"From there council staff said 'yes we are interested in selling this land'.
"So we have a few things to sort out in the way we do things, but I'd like to get that straight ... this never came to council as a a resolution."
Mayor Tim Shadbolt said there had also been valid reasons for considering the proposal, and they were not just about financial gain.
"The presentation that was put before us was that in Invercargill we have an ageing population, and a decline in the number of doctors, many of the doctors that serve our city are on the brink of retirement.
"As a result of that it was felt that this proposal, which was about setting up a health centre for the elderly, was something we should support."
Shadbolt also reiterated Pottinger's comments.
"No decision had been made; no resolution had been passed by this council."