Sport body may look to courts

By Don Farmer

A Masterton sporting body is contemplating legal action against the district council over a property claim it says the council is refusing to negotiate over.

Athletics & Cycling Masterton (ACM) has listed taking legal action as one of two options regarding the renewal of its lease for the Sportsbowl Pavilion.

The other option is to call on Masterton District councillors to step into the debate and collectively support ACM's lease renewal, something the club says it has been unable to convince council officers to do.

In May the century-old club, which is an amalgam of the Masterton Harrier Club and Masterton Amateur Athletic and Cycling Club, spoke out over the uncertainty of its clubrooms overlooking the new all-weather sports track.

The rooms, built in the early 1980s in a combined effort between the Harriers and Masterton Borough Council, were on lease until the original 28-year lease expired in 2009.

Masterton Harrier Club had funded almost half the $65,000 project to develop the pavilion and a surrounding field, raised by selling its previous clubrooms. Club members also provided some labour and bulldozers to level the ground and worked on the interior of the rooms.

In a paper jointly prepared by ACM president Graeme Butcher and chairman Sue Lyttle the club is calling on the councillors to instruct council staff "to honour commitments previously made".

Although litigation was the least preferred option to settle the matter "our members are supportive of this action if required."

Mr Butcher said council stated it did not want to give then a new lease because it thought ACM would use its sole rights to exclude others from the building. "This has never been the situation. ACM has always been agreeable to sharing its facilities with other community groups."

Council chief executive Wes ten Hove said ACM had been repeatedly told that by law the council had to take into account all future interests before renewing the lease. This was a requirement of the Reserves Act as a new $1 million facility, the All Weather Track, had been built.

Mr Ten Hove said it appeared there were "tensions" between some ACM members and All Weather Track Trust members.

ACM was carrying on under the old lease anyway and that a renewal was not a problem, but the terms of it.

He said it would be "irresponsible" of council not to take into account all future uses of the facilities before a renewal.

Council representatives have now arranged to meet with the ACM committee on February 4.


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