Track trust calls it a day

By Don Farmer -
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Trustee Mark Harris is "future-proofing" by creating his own facilities away from the track.
Trustee Mark Harris is "future-proofing" by creating his own facilities away from the track.

The trust which has been running Wairarapa's beleaguered all-weather athletics track in Masterton has voted itself out of existence, and will transfer the track assets to Masterton District Council.

The news was confirmed yesterday by Wairarapa Regional All Weather Track Trust chairman Jonathan Hooker, who said it had been the original intention to hand the track over to the council once it had been built.

"But it was realised doing this would limit access to community funding when it became time for the track to be resurfaced."

Instead it was decided the trust would morph from a construction trust to a management trust, he said.

This was to happen when the council had negotiated a new lease with Athletics and Cycling Masterton (ACM), which had only been completed in December last year.

Mr Hooker blamed "on-going negative publicity" for that being impossible.

"We believe the best way forward is for the trust to remove itself from the scene and allow Masterton District Council to facilitate the formation of a new structure for the on-going management of the track," he said.

News of the trust's closure comes only 10 days after a committee of the district council sought a way of healing divisions in athletics in Wairarapa, and supported a move to get all clubs and council representatives to a roundtable meeting.

This was in the wake of long-awaited answers to a series of questions councillors had put to the trust over insurance cover, track usage, income and some other aspects of its operation.

Mr Hooker said the new track managers would inherit the track itself, a gear shed and "quite a bit of gear" used to run events or for use on the track.

He said it would be 10-15 years before it was expected the track would need resurfacing so "it is not a matter of us dumping and running because of that".

Mr Hooker said it was fair to say the track had not gone as sweetly as had been thought.

"It hasn't been ideal."

He said he was relieved, as he believed all trustees would be, to no longer have to be responsible for it.

Likewise he was not interested in being involved in any new management team that may be formed.

Mr Hooker is a Masterton district council, as is Mark Harris, the principal user of the all-weather track.

Mr Harris said he will now have to negotiate a deal with council "like any other user".

He said he had done hundreds of hours of volunteer work each year with the track but was now "future-proofing" by creating his own facilities away from the track.

"I will use the track for some of my training, but I am seeking other solutions."

Mr Harris said any existing bookings for the track would remain in place.

Yesterday ACM president Graeme Butcher rejected any idea ACM would take over management of the track.

"We are not set up to take on the management of the track.

"You are talking about a million-dollar facility which is not to be taken on by well-meaning volunteers," Mr Butcher said.

He said the track had to be professionally managed "and that hasn't been occurring".

"Obviously it should be run by the guardians of the town, and that's the Masterton District Council."

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