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Blues on bowling greens

PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Clubs frustrated at delays in building covered sports hub

BECKIE WILSON
[email protected]

Patience is running thin for the organisers of a new $1.5m covered bowls stadium beside Masterton’s Memorial Park.

The Masterton Indoor Bowling Hub committee is keen to progress with their plans to build the facility which will benefit many community groups and clubs.

But committee chairMAN Bernard Cleary said there had been “a bit of a problem” with the Wairarapa Multisport Stadium Trust drawing up paperwork, including the lease details and costs, for the committee to be able to move forward.

The land earmarked for the hub is part of the site leased by the trust from Masterton District Council and Cleary said the committee had been waiting about six months for paperwork.

However, the trust’s chairman, Rex Playle, maintains there have been no delays and the committee needed to work through its plans first.

The idea of the covered bowling hub was first raised two years ago.

The plan is to build a large complex, about 35m by 40m, next door to Memorial Park, on the site of the old Centennial Women’s Bowling Club.

The hub would be fully enclosed, but outdoor bowls would be played.

Masterton councillor, Masterton Bowling Club president and the bowling hub committee administrator Gary Caffell said the process with the trust had been slower than the committee would have liked.

“If we didn’t go to Memorial Park it wouldn’t be the end of it, but Memorial Park has been the preferred site and that’s what we are wanting,” he said.

Caffell said the committee made it “very clear” that it wanted information as soon as possible so decisions could be made.

The complex will have enough space for six to eight rinks, plus meetings rooms, and could open out on to the park’s grounds.

While its primary focus would be to house bowling clubs and tournaments, Cleary said many community groups and sports club had signalled their support for the complex.

Four bowling clubs – Lansdowne, Park, Eketahuna and Masterton – have already invested a “significant” amount of money in the project, would base themselves in the new hub.

“They are the people I’m worried about, they want a home of their own,” Cleary said.

The committee has had discussions with Masterton District Council and has building designs and costs.

Playle was clear the trust was meeting its obligations.

“The trust is set up to administer the running of the turf, we are not set up to administer fundraising of the bowls.

“They need to do that side of it – they have to go to council, they have to get it all in line, and make sure they can build what they want there,” he said.

“We’ve agreed for them to have it there, but there has to be a process, and that process hasn’t been decided yet.”

Playle said there was a handful of ways the new indoor hub could be run, which were being worked through by the trust.

He would not go into detail about the options.

Playle said all trustees were volunteers with their day jobs their main priority.

“When you haven’t got a paid employee to set this up, you can’t turn around and say to people ‘get this done’, because they have got to do their owns jobs first.”

Trustee and Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union chief executive Tony Hargood was positive about the proposal, after the committee presented to the trust last week.

“We are really excited about it, there’s a little bit of process we have to get through, but hopefully over the next couple of weeks we will have something in front of all parties to go to the next level,” he said, speaking on behalf of the trustees.

But Wairarapa United men’s football coach Phil Keinzley, who hopes the hub could become United’s new clubrooms, felt the trust did not have the community’s interests at heart when discussing plans for the hub.

“The bowls [clubs] are just about looking at alternative locations just because of the sheer procrastination.

“I just feel that this is a disgrace that something for the community that is going to benefit a lot of codes is being allowed to drift and get to this stage,” he said.

Keinzley’s support was not dependent on the hub being available as a clubroom.

“Even if that didn’t happen, you would just think it’s a really good idea making this a sports hub and the bowls should be given every encouragement, and not have obstacles put in their way.”

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