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Call for sort out meeting

By Don Farmer
[email protected]

Dire news this week that Aratoi is cash-strapped and may even face closure has lead to calls for a public meeting to be held, or at the very least for all interested parties to get round the table to sort things out.

In an interview with Aratoi board chairman Frazer Mailman on Sunday it was revealed Lands Trust Masterton, which is also known as Masterton Trust Lands Trust, has dried up $120,000 in operational and exhibition funding for Aratoi as it prunes its overall grants budget.

The funding cut means Aratoi faces an operating shortfall it cannot overcome unless there is a flood of donations from other sources or a new corporate player comes into view.

It also means the Aratoi board cannot sign off Memorandums of Understanding or a service agreement with Masterton District Council.

Immediately after publication of Aratoi’s plight district councillor Gary Caffell called for a public meeting.

Mr Caffell said it would be a “sad day for Masterton” if Aratoi is forced to close its doors.

He said the council and Lands Trust Masterton should join forces to call a public meeting so the people of the district can be involved in the issue.

“I don’t believe Aratoi functions perfectly but in virtually every council survey done in recent years it has had a high public rating, that’s worth remembering.

“Before any funding cuts are made, by anyone, there should be a conversation with the people of Masterton district,” Mr Caffell said.

His views are supported by sitting Lands Trust board member and fellow district councillor Chris Peterson.

Mr Peterson said although there is “obvious potential” to now make Aratoi a local body election issue all interested parties should get together after the October elections and sort out the Aratoi problem.

“That should involve the Lands Trust, the council and anyone else who cares to listen,” Mr Peterson said.

“My reading of the situation is that Aratoi is at the crossroads and Masterton people must ask themselves whether they want the facility and, if so, on what level.

“Do they just want a hollow shell with not much going on or a vibrant community facility.

“Everything has to be put on the table,” he said.

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