New Masterton District Council chief executive Kath Ross. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Work on revitalising Masterton’s town centre will be happening by the end of the month, once Masterton District Council makes a decision on plans at its meeting today.

New chief executive Kath Ross, in the job just four days Monday, is clear there will be no delay – and nor should there be surprises in whatever councillors decide is the way forward.

“The overall strategy, I don’t think there’ll be any surprises with,” she said.

Ross says the ideas have been well canvassed through the council’s long term plan process, and separate opportunity to provide feedback to consultants Boffa Miskell.

“There’ll be an announcement after the council meeting and then a roll-out of some pretty quick things so that people will actually see the potential, and businesses and champions can get on board,” Ross said.

“By the end of August, something will be happening – something significant.”

The council is remaining tight-lipped on the detail of what will be proposed at today’s meeting, but some redesign of spaces in the upper Queen St area can be expected, in keeping with the idea of creating spaces that people want to be in.

“I look at them [the ideas], and I’ve seen some of them done before, and I have every confidence that they are things that the community will get in behind,” Ross said.

Among the proposals that could perhaps be started relatively quickly are plans to create spaces for youth on Park St.

Ross said the initial work would be on a limited scale, but would test community reaction.

“We might not get them all right, but at least we’ll find out what things resonate with the community here.

“If we’re going to fail, we’ll fail fast on some small stuff.

“And then we can start building on the success of the things that really work.

Ross concedes it will be difficult to please everybody with the plans, but time will determine what has succeeded.

“With some of the more controversial things, over time, 10 years down the track people will either go ‘it was my idea’ or ‘I was a bit sceptical but I’m glad it worked’.

“There will always be people that embrace it, and there will be others that are cautious, and for various reasons there will be naysayers.

“If we can move the cautious into that ‘wildly excited’ group, then for the naysayers the proof will be in the pudding.”

Ross, 45, comes to Masterton from Kaikohe, where she was general manager for strategic planning and policy for Far North District Council.

She has moved to Masterton with her partner Justin Harding, a technical draughtsman, and their children Isabell, 12, and Michael, 10.