Scrap over hall funds

By Rebekah Fraser

The days are numbered for the dilapidated Three Mile Hall, as a battle begins over hall funds.
Earlier this month the Westland District Council agreed to use $80,000 of the domain reserves to pay historical funds owing to four small townships throughout Westland.
That move has angered the Three Mile Reserve Committee members, who said they were not consulted or even informed of the council decision until Tuesday.
Reserve committee chairman Max Dowell said the money had been raised through the committee’s own investment initiatives, and they had plans for it.
Although not used as a hall for many years, in recent years it was rented by the Three Mile sphagnum moss company Coastpak, which paid about $1000 a year to store dry moss.
“We have always said that when the hall stopped earning money, we’d offer a percentage of the interest earned each year to community organisations,” Mr Dowell said.
However, that option has now been thwarted by the council decision of August 1.
“Our committee is not happy at all. There have been a lot of people who have been trying to get the money, but it’s public money. It’s not there for the council to do what they please with it,” Mr Dowell said.
However, Westland District Council acting chief executive Richard Simpson said yesterday the council did have the authority to use the money.
“Otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.”
He said the reserve had $147,000 in it, the $80,000 having already been deducted from the account.
Mr Dowell said the committee was also trying to demolish the hall.
“It used to be a wonderful dancing hall, full of life back in the day. But its days are numbered now, like a lot of old rural halls.”
Three quotes were received last year for the demolition, but it was held up by red tape.
“They won’t let us pull it down without a resource consent.”
Mr Simspson said the only consent needed was a building consent, the same as any other demolition job.
Mr Dowell said once the building was demolished the land would be tidied up and turned into a layby, complete with a sign honouring the site’s history. “It’s a name that is over 100 years old and we don’t want it to disappear from the history books. We want to keep the name alive.”