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Building juggle for the youth hub

A youth hub project for the Masterton skatepark continues to gain traction, with a funding application currently sitting with Trust House.

The total budget for the Masterton District Council [MDC] project is about $486k, of which $268k was paid to Podular, a company that went into liquidation in late 2022.

Podular had been contracted to design and build the Youth Hub, before the company collapsed.

It is unlikely MDC will be able to recoup this money.

At Wednesday’s Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting, MDC community facilities and activities manager Corin Haines said the team had been working with local contractors to complete the project within the budget.

He said MDC was awaiting a funding application decision from Trust House, “which we are hopeful we should get”.

In August last year, the council voted to move the large Library Learning Centre from its Queen St site to the skatepark to fulfil its goal of creating a youth hub there.

The large Library Learning Centre building is currently used by the community and is an asset to the library’s ability to deliver programming.

It is also regularly used by Fab Lab Masterton, which is housed in another Library Learning Centre building.

Fab Lab is a Masterton maker space where local schools, businesses, and individuals can access digital fabrication technology and equipment.

Fab Lab Masterton co-founder Kirsten Browne said their building only had capacity for eight learners and the bigger building allowed them and other entities to run school-size classes.

“The whole complex was conceived as an ecosystem whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and felt a bit like a learning park. That’s what happens when the classroom is bookable,” she said.

“During Open Lab — when we throw open the makerspace doors to anyone — we notice a huge difference if there’s a thing happening in the classroom — like Virtual Reality demos, or language classes, or Predator Free drop-ins.

“We all come alive! Skateboarders have stopped by for a VR fix, popped into Fab Lab instead of waiting in line, caught the digital bug and then repeatedly returned to make their own merch.”

In the decision papers from last year, council staff said future plans to upgrade the library would likely involve the redevelopment of the Library Learning Centre space, so “officers feel it is a sensible option to look to move one of the buildings to support the delivery of the Youth Hub”.

“Library management has confirmed that while the loss of the large learning centre building is not ideal, the demand for the space can be managed within the library building in the short term, whilst the future of the library is considered,” the decision papers said.

“The large building was the one considered due to its size and ability to be retrofitted to have more than one space.

“The building already has heating installed, so this would be transportable to the new location.”

The Library Learning Centre portable buildings are owned by the council and are “easily relocated”. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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