Toy library to move again

Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
Aurora Menendez, 1, Addison Winton, 3, Piper Winton, 2 and Trey Rowlands, 4, test out the toys at the Rockingham and Districts Toy Library.
Camera IconAurora Menendez, 1, Addison Winton, 3, Piper Winton, 2 and Trey Rowlands, 4, test out the toys at the Rockingham and Districts Toy Library. Credit: Pierra Willix

The Rockingham and Districts Toy Library has been forced to move for the third time in five years, with its current building in Waikiki being handed back to the City of Rockingham.

The not-for-profit organisation was recently handed an eviction notice by the Department of Communities, which said the group would have to vacate its room at the Waikiki Community and Family Centre as the building was being handed back to the City next month.

Although the City has offered the group a temporary reprieve, extending the lease for six months, the group will still have to look for new premises.

Toy library president Karen East was thankful of the offer from the City, but said the long-term home of the organisation was unclear.

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“This is the perfect location and we would really love to stay here, “ she said. “It is central, has a play area, a kitchen, changing area and toilets.”

The organisation has been at its current premises for less than a year, having been forced to move twice in the past few years.

The group had previously shut down for about two years after being unable to secure premises, and while it reopened in 2015, it had to move in 2017 after the Salvation Army building in which it was located was sold.

Department of Communities assistant director-general corporate operations Paul Whyte said the current building in Waikiki was owned by the City but the land was vested to the City through the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

The previous occupant, the Waikiki Family Centre, became insolvent and ceased to exist in February, 2017.

At the time, the department allowed long-term occupant Little Smarties Playgroup to remain, and also introduced a new occupant, the Rockingham and Districts Toy Library, both on short-term arrangements, while coinciding with the duration of the department lease with the City.

Mr Whyte said the Department of Communities leased the centre from the City, but the lease would expire at the end of December.

“As the department no longer has a use for the centre, it is being returned to the City,” he said.

With the toy library run by volunteers, Ms East said another relocation would be difficult for the group, which would have to figure out how to move more than 800 toys and set up a new space.

“It is really disruptive for the members to have to move again,” she said. “We have 73 members which represent over 100 children and have families coming from places like Jarrahdale, Serpentine and Wellard.”

Parent Amy Winton said the service was a huge benefit to the community, but a relocation may affect membership if families had to travel further.

“It’s currently in a very central area and is one of those facilities that if people stop using it, we could lose it,” she said.

“With another move, I’d also be devastated if the items had to go into storage.”

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said the City’s preference was to make arrangements allowing the toy library to remain in its current premises for six months from January 1,while the City supported it to move to a more permanent building.

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