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Wrecking ball likely

Masterton Town Hall. PHOTO/FILE

MARCUS ANSELM

[email protected]

Masterton District Council staff have given councillors two options on the town hall’s future.

Both involve demolishing the existing buildings and the facade to make way for a new civic centre and library complex.

The only difference between the preferred and alternative option is whether work would begin on the facility soon or “at a later date”.

Councillors are meeting tomorrow to discuss the recommendation, and to resolve to put it to ratepayers in the upcoming 2020/21 Annual Plan consultation.

Current estimates for the proposed project do not exceed $20.5 million.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said recent public engagement to a range of options for the town hall’s future was “the biggest response to a council survey in recent memory”.

“It shows how interested Masterton residents are in the next steps for the Town Hall.”

During the consultation, local property developer David Borman presented a plan to retain the facade and redevelop the civic centre.

Borman was one of two residents to take out advertisements in the Times-Age offering alternative solutions.

His plans included strengthening two buildings, demolishing the existing keeping the 1950s facade, and erecting a new 900-seat civic centre

He budgeted his plans at $15million, $7million cheaper than the council’s ballpark figure.

Borman said he agreed that Masterton needed a new civic centre. But he said the survey was misleading.

“The survey was a waste of time.

“There’s no clear question on whether to save the building, or not.

“It was very unclear.”

“I do agree we need a multi-purpose civic centre, and that is a must.

“But I still feel that there is no need to knock down a good building.

“It will be very interesting to see what the outcome is. I just know that the public feeling is, if that building can be saved, save it.”

“If you and I were knocking a building down, there’d be hell to cry [sic].

“You hear about all these good buildings that shouldn’t be knocked down.

“This is one building that shouldn’t be knocked down.”

The council would meet tomorrow at its Lincoln Rd headquarters to consider the recommendation.

At Wednesday’s 12pm meeting, councillors would be presented with feedback from the recent public consultation.

Other options in this consultation included a more expensive approach to keep the facade and strengthen the existing buildings, and a choice to demolish all current buildings.

More than 1300 people replied to the survey.

A slim majority [51 per cent] of people said they were willing to pay an extra $4000 in rates over 20 years for a “multipurpose facility”.

A question about whether to keep the facade returned 37 per cent in favour of paying for it to be kept, and 42 per cent against.

-NZLDR

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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