The 110-year-old Blind Foundation Hall has a new owner.
Last Friday, ownership of the Steward St hall, previously owned by Blind Low Vision New Zealand (BLVNZ), was transferred to the Waitaki District Council for a “nominal fee”.
The hall was closed six months ago when urgent maintenance was required. BLVNZ assessed the building, and offered it to the council to buy.
BLVNZ chief financial officer Greg Hurn said the hall’s age, repair costs and decline in use came into play when deciding to hand ownership over to the council.
The organisation was still determined to find a new home in North Otago, and support its members.
“Rest assured that we will be working hard to ensure that any potentially displaced activities are relocated within the community at a suitable location,” Mr Hurn said.
“Waitaki Library have offered meeting spaces for smaller groups and we will work with larger groups in the community to secure alternative venues for them.”
Waitaki District Council property manager Renee Julius said the hall was a good fit for the council’s portfolio. It was centrally located, near council facilities and there were land issues the council could remedy.
In the short term, the hall would be used to support the Waitaki Museum and Archive’s stage two developments.
The council would now undertake repairs on the building, that could be funded through the Oamaru endowment fund.
Repair issues included watertightness, plumbing issues, and water ingress causing significant amounts of mould and damaged internal lining and floor coverings. The remedial work was expected to cost about $50,000, Mrs Julius said.
The council would host a workshop to determine the long-term use for the hall.