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Masterton Civic Centre project to continue


Emily Ireland
[email protected]

Masterton District Council’s civic centre project will continue to progress, with a majority of elected members voting in favour of reviewing the project but continuing with complementary work.

A recent report stated the council’s $30.8m civic centre – a cost estimate provided in the Long Term Plan – would now cost $57.14m.

It also stated that, based on a 30 per cent contingency, the project could cost $71.3m.

Because this cost deviated from what was consulted on in the Long Term Plan and changes would have to be made to the scope of the project, further community consultation would be required, council chief executive David Hopman said.

There were three battlefronts at last night’s extraordinary council meeting: four councillors were in favour of pausing the project, one was in favour of a pause and review, and six were in favour of a review and complementary work.

The complementary work to be undertaken included preparing a cultural narrative and funding strategy, discussing an agreement with the Masterton Theatre Company on its new proposed facility, and continuing community engagement.

Voting in favour of pausing the project were councillors Gary Caffell, Bex Johnson, David Holmes, and Tim Nelson.

Breaking from the crowd was councillor Chris Peterson who said it would be “unfair” on the incoming council to put them in the “deep end” by pausing the project without a review.

Voting to review and progress the project were councillors Tina Nixon, Sandy Ryan, Frazer Mailman, Brent Gare, Mayor Lyn Patterson, and Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont.

Kicking off the discussion was Caffell, who moved Option 1 – pause the project so the new council could take over after this year’s local government election in October.

He said this was a “clear option” and that it was “prudent” to pause the project, citing “huge discontent we have in the community of the process followed and division around the council table”.

“Let the new council step in and take over the project,” Caffell said.

“As a council, we’ve screwed up, and we’ve screwed up pretty badly with the process.

Masterton District Council meeting
The Masterton District Council meeting to vote on the future of the civic facility.

“It’s taken seven years so far; another year isn’t going to matter.

“It would be a damn good thing for us for this to move off the table and allow the new council full rein.”

Seconding this motion was Johnson, who said, “the only way forward is to pause, which is ironic”.

She said a pause was the only option that would ensure there were no further costs to ratepayers.

“The tail, as far as I am concerned, is wagging the dog.

“This council needs to get out of its own way and let the new council decide.”

On the other front, Nixon moved Option 3 – review and continue complementary work.

She said “time is money” and struggled with the idea of a pause which would leave the incoming council with “no information”.

She said Option 3 was about “ensuring we are doing the right thing for the incoming council to make the best decision they can”.

“Option 3 is not going to be getting me reelected, but I’m going to vote for it because it’s the best thing to do.”

Seconding Option 3 was Ryan, who said Masterton was a thriving town and the council’s vision for a civic facility addressed current and future needs.

She said “procrastination and delays” impacted project costs.

Patterson said there had been a “huge amount of consultation” on the project over the years, “and everything we have done today goes back to a vision of what we all agreed with”.

“It is imperative that we make decisions and stand by those decisions.”

In his rebuttal, Caffell said he and Patterson would have to “agree to disagree”.

“The people are asking us to pause.

“If it takes another year, Lyn, I don’t give a damn.”

After everyone had cast their vote, Patterson said she had hoped there would be consensus, “but it was not to be”.

Peterson voted against both motions.

An independent chair would lead the project review.


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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