By Don farmer
The project to rejuvenate of Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park has had a huge shunt forward with a decision this week which will immediately free up $424,000 not intended to be spent this financial year.
Masterton District councillors agreed this week to release the money earmarked in the Long Term Plan for future years and to add it to $195,000 allocated for this year.
The upshot of the decision is that the entire budgeted figure of $619,050 for stage 5 of the park’s re-development will be available and the project pushed forward, starting in April next year and finished by the following April.
Justification for releasing the money early, as recommended by the council’s senior management team, is that it is likely to result in better contracting prices and it would allow tasks to be done in a “logical sequence.”
Stage 5 will bring rejuvenation of the park to an end and is partly designed to “improve separation between pedestrians and cars while improving overall accessibility to the park lake and “softening” the lake edge.
It would involve providing better park furniture such as seats and tables and an effort to transistion better connections with the park and its surrounding areas.
The plan to rejuvenate Queen Elizabeth Park had its beginnings years ago but really got under way in 2013 when a design concept went out for public consultation.
Long Term Plan proposals were for a mix of funding, being 34 per cent from council reserves contributions and 66 per cent from loans over four years to 2018/19.
At this week’s council meeting it was unanimously agreed to push ahead with stage 5 but prior to agreeing to bring the funding forward there was an attempt by councillor Brent Goodwin to get councillors to agree to voting $450,000 to the project and to seek the balance from exterior funders, possibly from Trust House and Masterton Trust Lands Trust.
The amendment failed to garner enough support and it was then agreed to free up the entire budget.
Councillor Gary Caffell, who is chairman of the council’s Infrastructural Services Committee, said the park is the jewel in Masterton’s crown.
“Bringing the money forward will be a marvellous way of finishing the project off, so let’s get it done.
“At a Friends of the Park meeting last Sunday there was 100 per cent support for doing this and it is the committee’s intention to hold another park walkabout for the public in the new year,” he said.
In answer to a question from councillor Jonathan Hooker Mr Caffell said the previous intention to move the boatshed further towards the bridge that spans the lake to the island, or to “turn it into a café” has been dropped.
Councillor John Dalziell said the overall budget of $619,000 could present an opportunity for the council to involve local contractors in the work.
Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont said whoever wins the tender would involve sub-contractors and in any event the supply of asphalt needed for much of the work could only be obtained from a single source.
This was confirmed by assets and operations manager David Hopman who said there were local firms who could lay the asphalt but the product would be supplied from one source only.