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Borman pledges town hall funds

Masterton developer David Borman will put his money where his mouth is regarding the council’s town hall project, pledging to donate towards it once fundraising begins.

In recent years, Borman won over the hearts of many ratepayers and residents with his own plans for a town hall rebuild on the site of the existing earthquake-prone hall rather than at a new location as the previous council had proposed.

Last year, he proposed a library extension, a strengthening of the municipal building, and the demolition and rebuild of the town hall.

Since then, investigations have shown strengthening the municipal building is “not economical” and costs could “easily blow out”, he said in a recent newspaper advertisement publicising his views on the council’s Long-Term Plan options.

He now supports the council’s preferred $38.67 million option to demolish the town hall and municipal buildings, build a new town hall on the current town hall site, retain the facade, and retain Waiata House.

“Once the internal structure is gone, a multi-purpose 700-seated/1000-standing performance and function space town hall can be built,” Borman said.

The cost to retain the facade, build a new town hall, and extend Waiata House would be $4.40 per week by Year 5 of the Long-Term Plan.

“This $4.40 does not take into account the savings the council will make from not paying rent for their Queen St lease, or external funding,” Borman said.

“There are a number of government agencies and other charitable organisations with funding opportunities.

“Fundraising can start as soon as the green light is given.

“I, for one, will donate towards these projects.”

Borman said he supports the extension of the Masterton library and building a new future-proofed archive with a fireproof vault, customer reception space, and meeting rooms, all accessible from the library.

Former long-serving Masterton Mayor Bob Francis has endorsed Borman’s comments and has also offered his commitment to Mayor Gary Caffell and Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson that he will “support a significant external fundraising campaign over the next 18 months”.

But at a public meeting held last week, residents raised concerns about the council’s next steps if its preferred town hall option is approved.

Johnson, who facilitated the meeting, said Masterton District Council’s next steps are to procure an architect, update the demand analysis, develop an events strategy, identify operational costs, produce a detailed design, and engage with the community on this.

One attendee said the council should have done an updated demand analysis first.

“What if it comes back and says, ‘You’re kidding yourselves, it’s not worth it’?” the resident asked.

“You’re not going to get the events like you used to. Times have changed. Younger people don’t go to town halls anymore. Big events don’t happen in areas like Masterton because we are geographically isolated and don’t have an airport that brings people in. What if it comes back and says the same thing?

“Is this enough to stop you from going ahead with this?”

Caffell said the council’s first focus is to determine if Masterton residents and ratepayers even want a town hall before a demand analysis is updated.

He and Johnson encouraged meeting-goers to submit to the Long-Term Plan consultation.

Submissions can be made online via the council’s website or using hard-copy submission forms available at Masterton District Library or the council customer service centre, both on Queen St.

Submissions can also be made by phone by calling 06 370 600 during business hours.

Submissions close at 10am on Monday, May 6.


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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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