By Seamus Boyer

editor@age.co.nz

Masterton pool and gym users should expect a fantastic deal from whoever ends up running the Genesis Recreation Centre.

Particularly given the level of service provided by the current operators, who have not even made a Masterton District Council shortlist of potential future operators.

Community Leisure Management (CLM), who have run the rec centre since 2003, say they were “extremely disappointed” to lose the contract, and have as yet received no reasons from the council as to why.

This is understandable, as the council is still going through the tender process and must maintain a level of confidentiality and sensitivity as to the commercial aspects.

No doubt CLM will receive a full debrief from the council when this finishes next month.

CLM managing director John Latimer told the Times-Age that community surveys undertaken on behalf of the council showed a high level of customer satisfaction.

He also said the company had plans to invest a further $1 million in creating a “zero-depth” play area for children at the site, at no cost to the ratepayer.

That could well have been the case, but it’s also very easy to say after the fact, when there is now no chance of that happening.

By not going with CLM, the council must be very confident that whoever runs the centre from April will do not only a better job, but perhaps more cheaply as well.

Future investment in the centre may well be another point of consideration, but we won’t know until the decision has been made.

A third option has also been floated as a possibility, that the council take over the operation itself.

This has to be the least attractive option, unless there are some exceptional circumstances that would make it not only viable but a very good deal for ratepayers.

Running a swimming pool is not a core service, and the council might have a tough time convincing ratepayers that it should move away from roading, rubbish and sewerage.

Whatever course the council takes, there will be a lot of interest, and not just for those employees hoping they still have a job under the new regime.

The centre is a popular spot for all ages, and needs to be managed to the highest standard.