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Costs could go through the roof

An artist’s impression of Masterton District Council’s proposed civic facility. IMAGES/FILE

Inflation, building costs may blow civic budget skywards
Nixon offers solution to climbing costs

Inflation is likely to drive up the costs of Masterton District Council’s civic facility project, which had a budget of $30.8 million early last year.

Since then, inflation has hit a 30-year-high of 5.9 per cent and is continuing to climb. Strong demand for building materials, combined with supply disruptions and a very tight labour market, have also driven up the cost of construction by 14 per cent in the year to December, 2021.

But the chairwoman of the council’s Civic Facility Project Committee, Tina Nixon, says the cost of the build is not necessarily the same as the cost to the ratepayer.

She said there was potential for much of the project to be externally funded, which would minimise the impact on ratepayers.

The update comes as momentum builds for today’s protest against the council’s civic facility plans.

The protest, which starts at 3pm at Masterton’s recreation centre site, will be the second demonstration against the project.

The first drew crowds of several hundred people last June at the site of the town hall, which was deemed earthquake-prone in 2016.

“The council is looking to replace your stadium and your pool with their civic centre,” promotional material for Saturday’s event states.

“Enough is enough.”


Tina Nixon, who chairs the council’s Civic Facility Project Committee said the event would attract “good people” who are protesting “what they see as a threat to the existence of the town pools and even the Memorial Stadium”.

“But what if we could come back to the community mid-year with a plan to build a multi-use civic facility and at the same time fix some of the issues that exist with the current pools or even replace them with better facilities?” Nixon said.

“That is what we are embarking on – the art of the possible.

“Looking at what could be and at what cost and what could be made better.”

No civic facility proposals have been received for the recreation centre site, but the architect has made public early sketches to show the potential for the site. Some sketches would require the demolition of the recreation centre’s outdoor lido pool or smaller indoor lane pool.

Another sketch showed the civic facility footprint on top of the War Memorial Stadium.

Nixon said while people loved the outdoor pool, it was “problematic”.

“It still has leaks. It isn’t deep enough for canoe polo, and it’s only used three months of the year and not every day.”

She was confident the council’s proposal would be the right fit for the community, now and in the future.

“Every piece of solid planning the council has done has always pointed to the need to build civic facilities around the northern end [of town].

“We looked at all possible options from the supermarket north.

“At that time, there were nine councillors who supported the move to build the civic centre there.”

She said the price tag of the civic centre would be “greater than first agreed – simply because of inflation”.

“But the cost of the build is not the same as the cost to the ratepayer.”

Nixon said many municipal facilities had been funded “at least half of their cost” and said as central government elections drew nearer, more money would be up for grabs to fund the project.

There was also Three Waters sweetener money from the Government to the tune of $12 million for Masterton District Council, “some of which can be used for the civic facility”, Nixon said.

“There is not much use spending it on [water] infrastructure – as under the Three Waters, we won’t own or manage those assets anymore.”

Funding would also be available from Masterton Trust Lands Trust.

The trust’s purpose is to benefit the people of Masterton “through grants for extraordinary educational, cultural, and community activities”.

Because the civic facility included a library, it would qualify for trust funding.

“When all is said and done, this is our opportunity to build a magnificent modern library or knowledge centre – it is the jewel in the crown,” Nixon said.

“The multi-use theatre will be a much-needed amenity, but it is still the library that is at the heart of this plan.

“It also is much more sensible to build the library and the theatre and exhibition space in one place – as is done in the majority of civic builds around Australasia.

“Indeed, both Carterton and Martinborough followed this tried and tested norm.”

Nixon said the Civic Centre Project Committee would bring “a plan of what is possible” to the community to consider in June. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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