Alternative sought for Waihinga Centre

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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An artist's impression of the Waihinga Centre project, which the Martinborough Ratepayers & Residents Network wants to be put on hold.
An artist's impression of the Waihinga Centre project, which the Martinborough Ratepayers & Residents Network wants to be put on hold.

The Martinborough Ratepayers and Residents Network is calling for the South Wairarapa District Council to "pause" the proposed Waihinga Centre project and consider other options.

A public meeting is being held by the group tonight at 7pm in St Andrew's Church hall on Dublin St.

Residents will be invited to sign a petition which will be delivered to the SWDC before their next scheduled council meeting in two weeks.

Martinborough Ratepayers and Residents Network spokesman Martin Freeth said the group was requesting a "proper options-based consultation process" on the town's future town hall and community centre.

"We are asking the council to look at other options alongside the Waihinga Centre and give people a direct say and to, in the meantime, refrain from spending any more money on the Waihinga Centre."

The group have put together a new community centre concept, which they will discuss at the meeting.

The concept was designed by the local architects, and people from the town who have experience in the building sector.

It has an estimated cost of $2.9m -- less than half the estimated cost of the Waihinga Centre.

Mr Freeth, who will chair tonight's meeting, said the new concept would be "a practical, affordable and attractive alternative".

He said the new design was not a plan but "an example or demonstration about what [the centre] could be".

"We are putting up the concept to help get a proper discussion going -- a discussion that involves the whole community," he said. "We want to show the community and the council that there are other options."

Mr Freeth said a lot of money and time had gone into the proposed Waihinga Centre -- a design that was now looking "very uncertain".

Late last year the SWDC rejected a targeted rate which would see ratepayers pick up the $6.4m project's remaining $1.3m balance.

He said the new concept was an environmentally friendly design and would be more affordable to ratepayers.

There would be "half-a-dozen" speakers at the meeting and councillors had been invited to attend, Mr Freeth said.

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