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MDC bulldozes ahead with plans

Hands around the Masterton Town Hall protest. PHOTO/FILE

MDC seeks to fill key project roles

EMILY IRELAND and JADE DAVIES
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[email protected]

While Masterton District Council puts tenders out for four key roles in its $30 million civic facility project, a call to suspend the project is gaining traction.

Councillor Gary Caffell has posted on his Facebook page Masterton Matters asking followers to like the post if they agreed the civic facility project should be paused until after local body elections.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had gained almost 350 likes.

Caffell had shown his support for pausing the council’s plans in a series of posts in recent weeks.

“The plans should be paused because the council has been very remiss at taking the people along with it,” he said.

“There are so many unanswered questions and a lot of mixed messages.”

Caffell said the people of Masterton and the council needed to be “together on this”. He said waiting until after the elections would allow the next council to take another look at the project and perhaps start the planning process again.

“I’m confident in saying about 75 per cent of our community would like to see a pause.”

“When it’s as high as that, the council has to listen. It’s just crazy to go ahead appointing people to different roles when we haven’t even got a location.”

Caffell said that the centre was overshadowing more critical issues such as the pandemic and the Three Waters reform.

The council has voted to investigate using council-owned land at and around the Trust House Recreation Centre for the civic facility.

No plans had been prepared for any part of the site, but three publicised sketches show ideas of where the civic centre could be placed.

There had been vocal opposition to the sketches, which showed existing facilities might need to be demolished to make way for the civic centre, such as the outdoor pool, indoor five-lane pool, or the War Memorial Stadium.

A protest was organised at the recreation centre site for April 9 at 3pm to “save our stadium … and our pools”.

It would be the second protest against the council’s civic facility plans. Last June, several hundred residents linked arms around the town hall in opposition to the council’s plans to build a new facility at another location.

Organisers estimated that about 1200 people attended.

A Masterton District Council spokesperson said the civic facility architect and members of the project team were talking to subject matter experts about the project.

Chairwoman of the Civic Facility Project Committee councillor Tina Nixon, said the roles for which tenders were being sought would add to the expertise provided by already-contracted architect Architectus, fundraiser SGL Ltd, and quantity surveyor RPS Ltd.

Tender documents had been uploaded to the Government Electronic Tender Service seeking a structural engineering consultant, a mechanical, electrical and hydraulics consultant, a civil engineering consultant, and a fire engineer.

The tenders stated the purpose of each role was to find someone with “expertise to execute the design, providing professional, end-to-end services for Masterton’s new civic facility”.

Documents also stated that the construction cost would be about $26m.

The balance of the $30.8m budget would be spent on fittings, fixtures, equipment, and consultants.

“The council decided in June, as part of the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan to proceed with the project with at least $4m of external funding,” Nixon said.

“We need to get on and make things happen, and these roles will be essential as we move forward.

“As with other roles, we are looking for consultants with a proven track record in projects of this size and preferably experience in the greater Wellington region, including Wairarapa.”

The deadline for tenders for the structural engineering consultant and mechanical, electrical and hydraulics consultant is April 14, with civil and fire engineer tenders required by April 22. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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