Parents and supporters of under-threat Laura Ingram Kindergarten have launched a petition as they battle to keep the beloved Motueka kindy on its Pah St site.
The move comes after many members of the community were last week shocked to learn the kindy did not have a secure lease for its Tasman District Council-owned site behind Motueka Library. Parents and supporters were told the kindy could be bowled to make way for parking if a proposal to extend the public library goes ahead.
Motueka Library has long been earmarked for expansion and TDC is considering the project again as it prepares its draft Long Term Plan 2018-28.
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The risk to the kindy was outlined by Nelson Tasman Kindergartens chief executive Trish Casey who said the association had bought a house next to Motueka South School in case it needed to establish a new centre.
Parents and supporters want Laura Ingram retained on the Pah St site, which they say is a better location. Concerns have been raised that some families of kindy kids do not have vehicles and wouldn’t be able to get their youngsters across Motueka to the potential new site.
The “Save Laura Ingram Kindergarten” petition is online at change.org. Paper copies are also being circulated. It calls on TDC to “provide us with stability for our children and keep Laura Ingram Kindergarten in the heart of the community”.
“We believe the best way forward is to support the library being relocated to the new proposed hub in Decks Reserve so that Laura Ingram’s grounds will have no need to be turned into parking spaces.”
Vision Motueka has been driving the hub proposal and its chairman, David Armstrong, said proponents of the development would like to see a council feasibility study included in the 2017-18 year.
“It’s only about $150,000,” Armstrong said.
He suggested the money could come from year-end surpluses.
Laura Ingram Kindergarten is licensed for 44 children and is full. There are five teachers, an administrator and two teacher aides working in full or part-time positions.
In a plea via its Facebook page – Save Laura Ingram Kindergarten – the parents and supporters also urge people to support the hub proposal by completing a TDC survey on Motueka reserves that is open until April 28.
Meanwhile, the daughter of a long-time Laura Ingram teacher said her mother would have fought for the kindy if she was still alive.
Janeen Rogers, of Motueka, said she did not believe her mother, the late Betsy Stringer, had any inkling the kindy could be demolished.
In October, a year after Stringer died, the kindy community planted a magnolia tree in her honour on the grounds.
“It meant something,” Rogers said. “Will that just be forgotten now?”