There are three buildings on the old town hall site. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Range of possibilities
Masterton District Council is going back to the community for a third time on the issue of building a civic centre on the old Town Hall and Municipal Building site in Chapel St.
One option to be presented will be knocking down the buildings and façade and not building anything to replace it.
The site is made up of three different buildings and they’ve been vacant since 2016 because they’re no longer structurally sound.
There have already been two consultations, in 2017 and 2108, and $15 million is in the long-term plan.
There have been meetings behind closed doors as options have been further researched.
Mayor Lyn Patterson said on Thursday the Masterton community would help decide the future of Masterton’s town hall in a formal consultation later this year after the local body elections.
The consultation would present options from building a new centre retaining the existing façade and municipal building to completely demolish the existing town hall and adjoining buildings, including the façade.
The Times-Age understands the cost of keeping the façade and building a new civic centre could be as high as double the $15 million.
This raised questions about the impact on rates and the need, given there is a fairly new events centre in Carterton, which could be enlarged. It is believed a hotel is no longer in the plans.
Patterson would only comment that the options were being fully investigated, “including whether there is demand for such a facility and the cost impact it will have on ratepayers”.
It was important the community had a full understanding of the impact of all of the options before deciding which it preferred, she said.
“What we do know is that the town hall is no longer fit for purpose. At this point in time we do not have a clear indication from our community as a whole as to whether the facade on the municipal building is integral to Masterton’s identity.
“There are a range of possibilities, but each comes with its own risks and rewards and we want to give our community the opportunity to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves and decide which option it thinks is most appropriate.”
Patterson said in the previous consultations there was a preference for building a new civic centre, rather than strengthening the existing town hall building.
“Since that consultation, we’ve thoroughly investigated our options for building a new centre, including whether there is demand for such a facility and the cost impact it will have on ratepayers,” Patterson said.
“Feedback from stakeholders is that there is a desire within community groups and event organisers for a centre. However, the identified need is low.
“A replacement venue might therefore be best done using a staged approach, leaving aside the decision to build a theatre or auditorium with permanent seating for a later time.
“We also know that community groups would want to use the facility at community rates, which does mean that there would be an ongoing operating cost to the ratepayer.”