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Civic centre idea thrown back to community again

There are three buildings on the old town hall site. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Range of possibilities

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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.”


  1. Approached from a Wairarapa-wide perspective, how about this plan: Carterton’s Events Centre gets an expansion and is renamed Wairarapa Events Centre.

    Masterton puts in an EV charging station with solar panels at the current town hall and buys 10 second-hand Leafs, which easily have the range for shuttling people between Masterton and Carterton.

    (10 Leafs would cost approximately $150,000. There are other EV options, and with all the new cars coming out, the second-hand market will soon expand.)

    Jobs are created for shuttle drivers, with specific pickup and dropoff points: train station, bus station, town hall, Clareville Stadium, Carterton Events Centre. The aim is to enhance existing public transport options, not replace them, and make it as easy as possible for residents to get to events, whether they be performances, meetings, sport or whatever.

    For major events with many people, buses will be the primary option, with the shuttles supporting.

    The fleet will cost very little to run. A service on an EV runs about $100 because of how little there is to do. Tires are a scheduled cost. Solar panels will handle a fair amount of the charging, but even mains power is far cheaper than petrol per KM.

    The largest ongoing cost will be wages, but this provides 10 jobs (or 20 part-time) for local residents, and the money they earn often goes back into the local community in the form of purchases.

    Some back-of-envelope figures for 10 years: $5 million in wages, $400,000 for EVs (assuming fleet renewal), $300,000 maintenance and insurance, $300,000 solar panels and charging station. That’s $6 million, but let’s round it up to $7.5 million, or half of the $15 million allocated!

    Because of that, and because it’s a service, travel costs will be made simple: $1 dollar per trip.

    It’s quite possible that demand will increase, but the fleet is scalable.

    There are many other side benefits; at the very least, Carterton residents will have more options for getting to Masterton to use Colombo Road or go shopping or to the cinemas.

    I know the figures above don’t include the expansion to the current Events Centre, but that becomes combined funding option, and there’s $7.5 million still floating around from the $15 million allocated, and the article notes that some options would head towards $30 million to build (let alone run).

    I’m sure the plan’s not perfect, and there are lots of details to sort… but is it the kind of broader regional viewpoint we should be taking? Be interested to see what people think…

  2. When I see demolition of local, “earthquake prone” buildings such as the Town Hall I wish the valuable components were treated as such, and made available to be recycled and used with respect elsewhere, instead of being bulldozed wholesale as we watch, and trucked away. Time is money, is all that matters suddenly, it seems.
    The costs to replace such buildings are focussed on. Is any consideration given to those ratepayers and locals who’d love to reuse such irreplaceable treasure? Surely these valuables should be considered worth saving by, and for the community.

  3. I would love to see the facade retained if a new centre is decided upon.
    Building a centre for the future of Masterton will only become more expensive as each year passes. Sometimes it takes a courageous decision for these things to happen.

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