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Former mayors weigh in on Masterton plan

Local government heavyweight Bob Francis has confirmed his commitment to bolstering fundraising efforts for a new town hall in Masterton.

Francis, who presented his submission to Masterton District Council’s Long-Term Plan [LTP] last week, said he is confident that “millions” of dollars can be raised for the proposed project, despite the tough economic climate.

“I’m offering myself to be part of that to make sure it happens,” he said.

Francis, who was mayor of Masterton from 1986-2007, said there are several avenues that funding can be sought from, including central government support, national and regional funding trusts, local business donors, and naming rights for some components.

His overall submission supported the council’s preferred town hall option to: “demolish town hall and municipal buildings and build a new town hall on the current town hall site, retain the municipal building façade, and expand Waiata House”.

This option is estimated to cost $42.6 million and would be loan-funded, according to the LTP consultation document that also noted operating costs would be $3.2m more per year by 2028/29 – “mostly debt servicing”.

Another former Masterton mayor, Garry Daniell [who served from 2007 until 013], also made a submission to the plan but focused his presentation on supporting the inclusion of a permanent customised space for the archive in the council’s library upgrade project.

This option would cost $14.66m and would increase the footprint of the library building by 1080m2.

This is not the council’s preferred option, which is to “upgrade and expand the library and consider in the future a further extension to include the archive” at a cost of $10.75m.

Under this option, the archive would stay in its current temporary location if the council can extend the lease, which expires in two years.

There is a risk the lease cannot be extended, according to the LTP consultation document.

Daniell, who is chairman of the Wairarapa Archival Society, urged councillors to embrace the option of including the archive now and noted the council has been gifted land next to the library for this purpose.

The submission from the Wairarapa Archival Society said the present archive premises, which were always intended to be a temporary solution, “lacks proper air-conditioning, fireproofing, adequate storage, and receiving areas for digital and hard copy resources”.

The Wairarapa Archive is dedicated to collecting and preserving records and documents reflecting Wairarapa’s unique heritage.

It houses Wairarapa’s archival collections including publications, family histories, books, manuscripts, artwork, images, and films.

Daniell said the storage of the region’s taonga in suitable conditions is essential, “and currently the lack of such care puts our history at risk”.

Masterton District Council will deliberate on LTP submissions in June. -NZLDR

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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