Golf course may go to the dogs

8:37 pm on 2 February 2022

South Wairarapa District Council is looking at building its new dog pound at Featherston's old golf course, killing two birds with one stone.

Featherston Golf Club, as shown in marketing images by Property Brokers.

Featherston Golf Club, as shown in marketing images by Property Brokers. Photo: Supplied

The land, which the council bought in 2018, had previously been earmarked for Featherston's wastewater irrigation proposal, but this never eventuated because the council canned it in 2020, following overwhelming public opposition.

The council is still working with Wellington Water on a shortlist of options for Featherston's wastewater, but Mayor Alex Beijen fears the land may be taken in an asset grab under Three Waters Reforms.

Repurposing it for the pound may "safeguard" it, he said at yesterday's Assets and Services Committee meeting.

Beijen had previously told Radio New Zealand he was concerned the old golf course and the adjacent Hodder's Farm would be considered water-related assets and be taken over as part of the Three Waters Reforms, to the detriment of the local ratepayers who funded its purchase.

"Removing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets from our balance sheet, with a token amount in recognition for that, and especially when some of those assets may not be used for water, is a concern for every ratepayer," he said.

A Department of Internal Affairs spokesperson confirmed councils' water assets would transfer to the new water service entity, not to central government.

However, it said councils would not be compensated for any transferred assets.

At yesterday's Assets and Services Committee meeting, environmental services manager Rick Mead said he and Beijen had scoped the site of the former golf course to "look at options" for the district's new pound.

The land is adjacent to more council-owned land proposed for the Featherston wastewater distribution and was seen as a more appealing site for wastewater irrigation due to having fewer nearby residents.

South Wairarapa District Council's current pound does not meet welfare guidelines and needs replacing.

Last year, the council's preferred pound site on Johnstone St in Featherston was found unsuitable due to existing lease arrangements.

Mead said many options were being explored by staff for the new facility, including using the old golf course land, and even re-engaging with Carterton District Council, if needed, for a joint facility, despite this option being discounted last year.

There were obstacles to overcome if the golf course land was used for the pound, but these were not insurmountable, he said.

The old golf course site would also provide "a nice buffer zone for expansion", should the facility need it, he said.

Councillor Colin Olds was excited about the proposed modular plans for the facility.

"This is a long term solution and an investment that will take us out to the next 30 or 40 years.

"The [proposed] modular system is transportable and could be moved to a different location in the future, if needed."

The neighbouring Carterton District Council is continuing to move ahead with the design and build of its own animal pound.

"However, we always welcome discussions with other councils about shared services," a spokesperson said yesterday.

"Should South Wairarapa District Council wish to come onboard with our animal pound at a later date, there is the ability for us to adapt the facility and services accordingly."

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