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Cobblestones to sweeten deal

Greytown’s Cobblestones Museum. PHOTO/FILE

MARCUS ANSELM

[email protected]

Late moves to sweeten the Greytown sports hub deal were released mere hours before South Wairarapa District councillors met to discuss the issue last night.

Emails and last-minute correspondence flowed into SWDC headquarters in Martinborough as the parties sought to seal a deal ahead of next week’s deadline.

Local authorities are expected to have their annual plans confirmed by June 30 each year.

Landlords, Greytown Trust Lands Trust [GTLT] offered the section housing Cobblestones Museum on the town’s Main St with no addition to the $2.67 million deal proposed in SWDC’s annual plan.

Kuranui College also wrote to the council with details of further central government backing for an expanded gymnasium, which was part of the package detailed in the consultation document.

The much-discussed proposal to buy land in the town from the GTLT and create the sports hub at Kuranui College has been a hot topic for debate in SWDC’s annual plan process.

The subject dominated submissions and discussions, on and offline, throughout.

Last night’s meeting was hurriedly convened after discussions over the last few weeks could not come to a conclusion.

Last week, the discussion was curtailed as the council received “additional information” on the matter, according to Mayor Alex Beijen.

In a letter dated June 16, the day before council deliberations on the matter, GTLT general manager Kevin Murphy said the trust would offer the land currently occupied by the Cobblestones Museum.

The museum is located on the town’s Main St, and covers 2254m2.

Murphy said in the letter that the trust valued the land at $890,000.

“We acknowledge and understand that delaying settlement will mean that we won’t have the funds to immediately invest and this will have an impact on the grants available to the entire Greytown community in this financial year, and possibly future financial years,” Murphy wrote.

“We believe this revised land purchase proposal strikes the correct balance between getting a reasonable return for the Trust and acknowledging the value that these three land parcels could provide to the entire Greytown community if utilised by the Council in a better, more efficient manner.”

SWDC also released a letter from the Greytown Sport and Leisure Society [GSLS].

Jackie Gray and Gary Hewson of the GSLS board wrote to explain a one-off payment of $20,000 from the GTLT in support of the deal for sports grounds.

Kuranui College also alerted SWDC to a late change in funding from the Ministry of Education for its gym project.

The letter, sent by principal Simon Fuller, also on June 16, said that, as of June 12, the ministry has updated its contribution.

Fuller said the ministry proposed to fund the balance of the project in the shorter term, with the college repaying an additional $1 million by “disposing” of school rental properties and “utilising our School Improvement Funding – the ministry grant allocated to every school in the country at the beginning of 2020.

The district contribution would remain capped at $1m, as in the original proposal.

Councillors met last night at Martinborough’s Waihinga Centre.

-NZLDR

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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