RSA rescue plan in place

RSA president Rod Klarwill says he has a good team on board to see the project through to completion. He is standing in front of an artist’s impression of the new building. To view a flythrough of the proposed building go to: youtube/aH9pXW1OxLE

An ambitious plan to put the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA on a sound and sustainable financial footing, once and for all, will be officially put before Auckland Council before Christmas.

The club, which owns 2.5 hectares on Vipond Road, will seek resource consent to subdivide part of the property into 23 residential sections, averaging 600sqm, to fund the construction of a modern single-storey club building.

The new 1800sqm facility will replace the existing clubrooms and will be built on a carpark that currently caters for campervans. It will include a multi-purpose auditorium with seating for more than 300, restaurant, lounge, gaming room, children’s play area, administration offices and storage. It will also protect the Wall of Memories on the entrance driveway, as an important  part of the Coast’s heritage.

Newly-elected club president Rod Klarwill says that after months of consultation and discussion, it is exciting to be on the verge of applying for resource consent. If all goes to plan, the club could be in a position to let contracts early in the new year.

“Society is changing and this plan recognises that we have to appeal to people across our community and shed the image that we’re an old man’s smoking club,” Rod says.

“The new building will be able to cater for small and large events ranging from weddings and funerals to conferences.”

It was only four years ago that the 70-year-old club faced closure under the weight of accumulated losses totalling more than $1.1 million.

Frank Coggan stepped into the position of president then and spent the next two years introducing tighter financial accountability procedures, as well as trying to foster greater use of the club by a wider cross-section of the community.

Two years ago the executive committee started seriously canvassing ways to address the shortfall in funds by utilising the value of the site.

The club was approached by a number of developers and several options were considered ranging from a large scale retirement village to the sale of part of the property. However, in all cases, the result would have only delivered enough to finance the renovation of the existing clubrooms.

“It turned out that renovating the existing building would very likely cost the same or more than a new building due to its present condition and layout,” Rod says.

While the club is still operating at a loss ($175,500 in the last financial year) Rod says the latest plan will pay in total for the new building, plus return a surplus that can be invested for the club’s financial wellbeing long-term.

The club has borrowed $750,000 to provide the working capital and funds to pursue the resource consent. The loan includes the funds necessary to pay the monthly interest instalments.

Club income is derived primarily from gaming and the bar, as well as grants, donations and sponsorship.

The club operates from Tuesday to Sunday and employs 22 full and part-time staff, and also relies heavily on the contribution of volunteers. Membership stands at more than 3000, of which about one-third are service or ex-service personnel.

“Our premises and facilities act as a zero-cost meeting venue for a number of local clubs including Rotary and Rebus, and the Number 5 Airforce Cadets, and I expect this to continue.”

The plan will mean the bowling club will disappear, but Rod believes neighbouring clubs at Manly and Orewa will fill the void.


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