Flat Bush deserves the library and community centre it’s been promised for almost two decades.
That’s the view of Damian Light, who’s standing as an Independent candidate for a seat on Auckland Council in the Howick ward as well as on the Howick Local Board at this year’s local elections.
As the Times reported in June last year, the council and board have talked for years about eventually delivering a library and community centre in Flat Bush with the intention they’d serve that suburb and nearby Ormiston.
The board voted in September 2019 to approve a particular block of land at Ormiston Town Centre as the location for the library and “community hub”.
Those facilities, as well as an aquatic and leisure centre, were described as being “priorities for the Howick Local Board and the Flat Bush community”.
The council previously said the library and community hub project was put on hold as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial restraints in its emergency budget 2020-2021.
“The library and community hub remains a priority project and will be delivered as a single integrated building offering multiple services and activities, on the northern side of the Ormiston Town Centre.
“Timing of progress is dependent on when budget is available through the [council’s] 2021-2031 long-term plan, which will be adopted in June 2021.
“The initial budget estimates for the development are $35 million.”
Board chairperson Adele White said last year that the board “had certainly expected” to see a community centre and library in Flat Bush by that time.
Light says Flat Bush and Ormiston have numerous schools and are anticipated to have a population of 40,000 people by 2025 but do not yet have their own library or community facilities.
“Just last week I was at a community event in Flat Bush where locals were asking when the facility was going to be delivered,” he says.
“Residents are understandably upset at waiting so long for a facility that still has no firm timeline.
“They want to know when they will get the facility their growing community so desperately needs.”
Light says the library and community centre were promised by the former Manukau City Council in 2005 and then by the current super-city council.
“Over nearly two decades, hundreds of locals have provided their feedback that they need this facility.
“What they want now is action, not more talk or empty promises.
“Facilities like this are more than just buildings with books.
“They’re the heart of communities, providing meeting spaces and support for community services and organisations.”
The board has been a strong advocate for the project but the council has failed to provide the necessary funding and support to address the community’s needs, he says.
“Auckland Council has said work is due to recommence in 2024 but given the financial situation it’s likely it will need to be delayed again unless we get representatives who will fight for east Auckland.”