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Former Mayors Weigh In On Masterton Plan

Local government heavyweight Bob Francis has confirmed his commitment to bolstering fundraising efforts for a new town hall in Masterton.

Francis, who presented his submission to Masterton District Council’s Long-Term Plan [LTP] last week, said he was confident that “millions” of dollars could be raised for the proposed project, despite the tough economic climate.

“I’m offering myself to be part of that to make sure it happens,” he said.

Francis, who was mayor of Masterton from 1986-2007, said there were several avenues that funding could be sought from, including: central government support, national and regional funding trusts, local business donors, and naming rights for some components.

His overall submission supported the council’s preferred town hall option to: “demolish town hall and municipal buildings and build a new town hall on the current town hall site, retain the municipal building facade and expand Waiata House”.

This option is estimated to cost $42.6 million and would be loan-funded, according to the LTP consultation document.

According to the consultation document, operating costs would be $3.2m more per year by 2028/29 - “mostly debt servicing”.

Another former Masterton mayor, Garry Daniell, also made a submission to the plan, but focused his presentation on supporting the inclusion of a permanent customised space for the archive in the council’s library upgrade project.

This option would cost $14.66m and would increase the footprint of the library building by 1080m2.

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This is not the council’s preferred option, which is to “upgrade and expand the library and consider in the future a further extension to include the archive” at a cost of $10.75m.

Under this option, the archive would stay in its current temporary location if council can extend the lease, which expires in two years.

There is a risk the lease cannot be extended, according to the LTP consultation document.

Daniell, who is chairman of the Wairarapa Archival Society, urged councillors to embrace the option of including the archive now and noted land had been gifted to the council next to the library for this purpose.

The submission from the Wairarapa Archival Society said the present archive premises, which were always intended to be a temporary solution, “lacks proper air-conditioning, fireproofing, adequate storage, and receiving areas for digital and hard copy resources”.

The Wairarapa Archive is dedicated to collecting and preserving records and documents reflecting Wairarapa’s unique heritage.

It houses Wairarapa’s archival collections including publications, family histories, books, manuscripts, artwork, images, and films.

Daniell said the storage of the region’s taonga in suitable conditions is essential, “and currently the lack of such care puts our history at risk”.

Masterton District Council will deliberate on LTP submissions in June.

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