Masterton District councillors from back left: Brent Goodwin, Frazer Mailman, John Dalziell, Jonathan Hooker, Simon O’Donoghue, Chris Peterson. From front left: Bex Johnson, Gary Caffell, Mayor Lyn Patterson, Graham McClymont and Deborah Davidson. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The Times-Age asked the Masterton District councillors what they would prefer to see done with the town hall.
Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said she had a preference for the earthquake-prone building but was not willing to share it as she was awaiting the outcome of the Long Term Plan consultation process. It was important to listen to the community and to keep an open mind until residents had had their say, she said.
Gary Caffell said his preference would be to see the town hall’s facade retained, with the interior completely rebuilt. “Inside, I’d like to see a major auditorium with awesome acoustics, which we haven’t had in the past, and a series of meeting rooms.” Mr Caffell said if the community indicated, through the Long Term Plan consultation process, that it was strongly in favour of something else, then naturally he would look closely into that option.
Simon O’Donoghue said “out with the old and in with the new”. The town hall underwent major reconstruction after it was damaged in the 1947 earthquake and the facade was added.
“I myself don’t value the facade or building as it is so I would rather save money and do what Christchurch has done and do something bold and new — create new history.” Mr O’Donoghue would like to see an event centre built, with library attached, and possibly other public facilities. He was not opposed to it being constructed at a “new location”.
Chris Peterson said Masterton definitely needed a hall “somewhere” in town.
“If all things add up, probably a logical place for it is in its current building.” If finances allowed, he would like to see the facades of the at-risk town hall retained. Mr Peterson was keen to see what the community put on the table through the LTP.
Frazer Mailman had no strong feelings about what the hall’s fate should be. “If the community want the retention of the town hall, then I’m happy with that. But if they say bring it down to create a green space and there’s widespread support, then I will accept that’s what we do.”
Jonathan Hooker was not willing to shed light on his preference.
“I do have a view but I want to hear what the community has to say first so as not to colour their thinking.”
Brent Goodwin would like to see “a whole lot more work done” before he made a decision.
“I do think it needs replacing — the town hall, not the municipal building. “It’s got problems. You could strengthen it for a lot less than what they’ve said, is my belief, but it’s a very dated design.”
He would like the new design to accommodate activities that King Street Live offered along with performing arts facilities. Mr Goodwin also does not believe the library needs replacing.
Deborah Davidson does not want to see the town building knocked down. “But as a realist we need to have a think about what fits the purpose for the town hall. The concept of a town hall is an old one, but the building itself is a beautiful building. But as far as holding events and conferences there, is that the right type of building?” Mrs Davidson said as with all decisions, she will go in with an open mind.
Graham McClymont said he would “probably lean towards something new . . . in the same spot”. “Whether or not that is affordable, that’s what the community have to tell us,” he said.
Mr McClymont said the earthquake strengthening of the building was going to cost “a lot of money and not a lot of gain”.
Bex Johnson has big plans for the town hall.
She wants the facade retained, but also “some sort of quirky, contemporary glass” community facility.
“It needs to have a community feel so groups feel comfortable being there formally and informally.” The town hall complements the Times-Age and the Public Trust building, she said. She would like to see it become the civic hub for the town.
John Dalziell said it was a big decision and he wanted to remain open-minded until he heard what the community wanted. “I flick around a bit but I think at the end of the consultation we will have fair idea on what the community wants and it sounds like it may not be too far away from my view,” he said. “There’s a lot of options and it’s a big decision, and I would rather be influenced by the community than stand by a judgment that might be too left field.”