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Deputy Mayor: Youth Hub project still has legs

Masterton’s Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson is pleased the council will not be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to its Youth Hub project.

The fate of the project has been hanging in the balance after the contractor Podular went into liquidation late last year.

At Wednesday’s Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting, it was confirmed it was unlikely that Masterton District Council [MDC] will be able to recoup the $260,000 in funding it has already paid to Podular.

The council has only received the final design from Podular, and no further products have been received.

The total budget for the project was $538,000, and $120,000 of funding was sourced from the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Youth Development.

After a lengthy discussion on the project’s future, councillors voted to continue with it by re-engaging with the Youth Council, which will confirm the scope and come back to council with a suggested way forward.

MDC also agreed to take a more localised approach to the construction of the Youth Hub, which is proposed to be within the vicinity of the newly revamped skatepark.

Johnson acknowledged that “bad stuff happens” and said the council needs to “move along, not start over”.

She also maintained that there must be some merit in the designs that the council has already paid for.

“We’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, which is great.”

Mayor Gary Caffell suggested the council could encourage a community build approach, similar to how the Kids Own Playground in Masterton was done.

He suggested local contractors may want to offer their products and services to contribute to the Youth Hub.

The original design aspiration for the Hub was for shipping containers to be converted to create a facility that met the needs of Masterton youth from an aesthetic as well as functional view.

The proposed design featured several amenities, including an observation deck, a small coffee kiosk/food counter, toilets – including a disabled access bathroom – space for skate equipment, a meeting space, and informal hang-out areas.

A report to council said the potential benefits of a Youth Hub for the Masterton community are significant, “particularly in terms of addressing the needs of young people and providing a facility which they can identify with and supports them”.

“By providing a safe and supportive environment for young people to gather, socialise, and engage in positive activities, the Youth Hub will help to reduce feelings of social isolation, boredom, and disengagement that can lead to negative outcomes,” the report said.

Some councillors voiced concerns about how effectively the space will be managed once it is up and running.

MDC is still receiving legal assistance from Gawith Burridge Law, which is advocating for MDC’s interests in the liquidation proceedings.


    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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