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Covid delays civic facility decision


Councillors have four options for facility

Pause, review, progress, or refresh.

Masterton councillors have been given four options for the future of the council’s civic facility project, which could cost more than $70 million.

But the decision paper and report, totalling 54 pages, were only made available to the public and councillors on Tuesday night due to staff illnesses.

It meant there were only six business hours to digest the content before the matter was set to be discussed yesterday.

When Wednesday’s meeting began, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson quickly addressed the situation and withdrew the agenda item.

The council would now meet on Monday, May 23, at 6.30pm to discuss the agenda and make a call on the civic facility’s future.

Patterson said she had recently recovered from covid, as had the council’s chief executive David Hopman.

Hopman was the author of the decision report and only returned to work on Tuesday.

“That was the reasoning behind the late paper,” Patterson said.

“After discussions with the chief executive and advice from staff, with which I am in agreement, I am going to remove from the agenda item 12: Civic Facility – Reverse Brief and Next Steps.

“We know that this is an important issue for our community.

“The paper was delivered late.

“I think councillors would have received it early yesterday evening – apologies for that.

“As you are aware, not only have I had covid, but our chief executive has as well, and he returned to work yesterday.”

Patterson acknowledged the amount of work staff had put into preparing the report under “extraordinary circumstances” but said the timeframe wasn’t sufficient for councillors or the public.

She said the civic facility issue was important, and postponing the decision to Monday would allow extra time for people to digest the document.

The report said the council’s $30.8m civic centre – a cost estimate provided in the Long Term Plan – would now cost $57.14m.

Of this new cost, about $9.8m was “professional fees”, and $47.3m was the construction and fit-out cost.

It also stated that, based on a 30 per cent contingency, the project could cost $71.3m.

The decision report said if the council wanted to progress the design and build, they would need to confirm the architect’s brief, the budget, and the location.

At the price quoted, the council would need to amend its Long Term Plan, which would require consultation with the community.

Councillors were given four options: pause the project ahead of the local government elections in October; pause design and build work and carry out a review of all information and decisions made, including any options considered and discounted; review the project but continue with complementary work; or review the project and “refresh” the design while doing complementary work. — NZLDR

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