Opening the Jordan Lounge and Alexandra War Memorial Community Centre

Sunday 16 June at 12:30

My Mother used to say, `when one door closes, another one opens'.

When the Great Flood of 1999 inundated the Alexandra swimming pool, and the museum, and crept up to the door of the senior citizens rooms in Walton Street, we lost some valuable community assets. Assets that meant a great deal to a large number of people.

A door was closing, and it wasn't at all clear whether another door would open. But over the months that followed, through the hard work and commitment of many people, lots of new doors opened.

There's a new pool, half built, in Molyneux Park that will be much better than most people realise, and an enormous improvement on the pool down at the end of this street. There will, soon, be a new museum, the best community museum in the South Island, maybe the best in all of New Zealand, on Pioneer Park.

And today, we are officially opening another of the new doors.

The Jordan Lounge and Community Centre is a marvellous facility. We have turned what was an expensive White Elephant into a valuable community resource. If you've been inside during the activities that have been going on this week, you'll know what a great job the architects and builders have done. If today is your first visit, be prepared to be impressed.

A lot of people contributed to the success of this project, and Steve Battrick has already acknowledged their good work. I'd like to go back to the very beginning, and explain how this project began.

When the need for a new lounge for the senior citizens was first discussed, Daphne Hull, who was chairman of the Alexandra Community Board, and Kath McKay from the council, Jan Wells and Elizabeth Duggan and I spent a few hours one day touring around the town looking for a suitable building.

We looked at the Guides rooms in Ventry Street, and talked about other possibilities, and then came down here to look at this building. It had already been suggested to us, and almost straight away we could see the possibilities. There was a lot of arm waving and walking up and down, and we all went away more or less convinced that this was the place.

And so it was. $600,000 dollars and about a year later, here we are.

Steve [Battrick, Alexandra Community Board Chairman] has acknowledged the many people in this community who worked hard to make this project a success. I'd like to thank the professionals who took all those good ideas and made a building out of them. It starts locally though with Graeme Bell, who dusted off some old borough council plans that he'd always hoped would one day see the light of day, and who managed the consultation with the senior citizens group,

It was the Council's Project Manager Helen Tait who made sure that the job got done. Helen said to me a number of times that this project was a joy to work on. The architect, John Gray of Oakley Gray Architects in Dunedin did a great job turning a sows ear into a silk purse, and the builders, our own Breen Construction, were highly skilled at turning the architects' ideas into a building that really works. It's a tribute to both of them, and they deserve our special thanks.

Nothing happens without money, of course, and as well as the Crown, who contributed through the purchase of the building and the flood protection amenity fund, we have to thank the Community Trust of Otago and the Central-lakes Community Trust for their very generous support.

Looking to the future, I see this building as a conference venue, as a great place for big private events like weddings and anniversaries, and as a genuine community centre. With the theatre under the same roof, a brand new kitchen and bar, and right in the middle of town, it can't lose.

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