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Hotel prospect sparks standoff

The Masterton Town Hall is unoccupied but there may be big plans for the iconic building. PHOTO/FILE


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The gloves came off at the last full Masterton District Council meeting of the year yesterday when the future of the abandoned Town Hall and Municipal building complex arose.

Chief executive Pim Borren was tackled over written comments he had made over the prospect that a boutique hotel built by Wellington developers could share the site with an events and convention centre.

Councillor Brent Goodwin pointed the finger at Mr Borren claiming he had weeks ago sought answers on the seismic situation regarding the buildings, options and costs, and had not been given the information he needed to do his job.

Mr Goodwin said he had not heard back from the chief executive, and councillors were being asked to make “all sorts of assumptions” over the future of the council-owned complex.

He questioned how a figure of $15m to either strengthen the earthquake-prone buildings or replace them had been arrived at.

If a report was in existence containing that information, Mr Goodwin said he wanted to see it “otherwise I can’t discharge my duties as a councillor”.

Earlier, Mr Borren, while formally introducing his monthly chief executive report, told councillors he liked to “share things off the top of his head” with them – alluding to the mention of expressions of interest in a boutique hotel.

Councillor Gary Caffell joined in the exchange saying that he too had been surprised to read there had been expressions of interest shown in building a boutique hotel.

Mr Caffell said he knew there had been an informal mention of it but never believed it had been any more than that.

He said Trust House, which runs hotels and eateries in Masterton, was very supportive of the council and he would have liked to have had the chance to properly discuss the issue before it had been made public in Mr Borren’s report.

Mr Borren replied “that organisation” had actually contacted him and “put out feelers” about having a hotel on the site.

“It was not my idea. I was approached by the very party you are discussing.”

Mr Borren said the way he saw it, he had been partly employed to support economic growth in Masterton.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson reiterated no decision on the future of the abandoned complex would be made until there had been full consultation with taxpayers.



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