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Memorial Park’s new guardians

FLASHBACK: The Wairarapa Multi Sports Stadium Trust was formed in 2014 to redevelop Trust House Memorial Park. Photo shows Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson watching as Heartland Wairarapa chairman Bob Francis makes the first cut into the turf. PHOTOS/FILE

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Management of the Trust House Memorial Park artificial turf has been passed to the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union [WBRU].

The trustees unanimously decided it was in the best interests of the community and park users to wind up the trust and have a single custodian take it to the next level of its development, particularly upgrading the grandstand and ablution facilities, Wairarapa Multisport Stadium Trust [WMSST] chairman John Dalziell confirmed.

WMSST was established in a Deed of Trust in November 2014 “to establish, own and administer an all-weather multisport and community activities field for the benefit of the general public”.

Several parties are involved in subleases and Memoranda of Understanding at Memorial Park, which Dalziell said had passed their effective use, making them unfit for purpose.

WBRU is negotiating a new lease with Masterton District Council, which owns Memorial Park.

Dalziell said the trustees welcomed the move as a need to ensure clarity around the key assets at the park, its upkeep, and continuing maintenance.

Wai-Bush playing East Coast at Memorial Park in their final game of the 2021 Heartland Championship.

It also brings the administration of the turf into one organisation meaning that activities such as sponsorship, bookings, and staff employment become centralised.

The artificial turf construction costs in 2015 was about $2.1 million, of which community organisations donated $1.9 million.

Given this community input, the retiring trustees considered that the core principles that have guided the WMSST since inception should be at the forefront of future administration decisions.

Dalziell said that even though it is no longer a community-owned asset, the trustees believe the past investment should be recognised and future usage by other organisations [sport and other activities] should be a core priority.

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He said it would be a positive community service to allow school groups to use the turf at a minimal rate or free through a sponsored programme during the daylight hours it is not booked.

The trustees also thanked sponsors, volunteers, and all park users since the time the turf was put in.

WBRU chairman Jason Carruthers thanked the trustees for their time and commitment to looking after the turf and acknowledged the union’s important role as the new guardians of the assets.

“The union is the obvious guardian of the turf given the importance of the park as the home ground for Wairarapa-Bush teams,” said Carruthers.

“We also acknowledge the need to expand usage of the turf to other community sports and organisations and use the benefits of an all-weather surface.

“This has been an objective of WMSST since the beginning, and we will continue to ensure this principle has high priority going forward.”

The turf was opened in April 2015 and has been regularly used by WBRU teams, school teams, Hurricanes development training, Wairarapa United, and the Paul Ifill Football Academy.

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