OVAL GOES ‘ROUND

Redevelopment ball back in Clare Valley sporting groups’ court

The Clare oval redevelopment proposal has been put back into the hands of local sporting groups, who plan to now drive the project with new vigour and a goal to have an upgraded oval and sporting facility in place by 2022.

South Clare Sports Club president, Nick Heath, and North Clare Football Club president, Ian Pearce, said they met with Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council CEO Helen Macdonald in January, along with other council staff and a representative of the Office of Sport and Recreation, and said the project was handed back to the sports clubs to
pursue.

Both sporting groups have welcomed the move, saying while their focus had not changed since the “journey” first started around March 2015 – with the first official ‘minuted’ meeting held in August 2015 – they felt it had certainly stalled in the last 14 months.

“In February last year the project stalled, we haven’t actively managed this project for two years now,” Mr Heath said.

“Council took it over for 12 months prior to February last year, we weren’t the driving force behind it for that time, but just one voice in eight sporting clubs in the town each having a say.

“In late January this year, we met with council and a representative of the Office of Sport and Recreation, and it was indicated to us that council would take a step back now, and that South and North sporting clubs will be in full control of the project with no interference at council level.”

Mr Heath and Mr Pearce said CGVC had “recommitted its financial support” and would provide assistance as a sounding board and in applying for outside grant money to fund the proposed upgrade.

“As for planning or application of further grants and our own financial commitment, that’s up to us,” Mr Heath said.

However, CGVC CEO Helen Macdonald told the Plains Producer a ‘new’ council was “not bound by the commitments of a previous council” and “until council has something to consider and make a decision about, there is little (she) can say about council’s position.”

“The new Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council has not been requested to consider any proposals about redevelopment of the Clare Oval,” she said.

“Without a proposal it is difficult for something to be a priority, and to date council has not received any request from the Clare Oval Committee for consideration in the coming 2019/20 budget deliberations.

“We are hoping to develop an Open Space Strategy for the whole district.  It would include all recreation areas, sporting fields, etc.

“The strategy would then be used by council to help guide its decisions about recreation and sporting areas into the future.”

United, South and North Clare sports and football clubs are now in the final stages of re-invigorating an oval redevelopment committee to take control of the oval upgrade proposal, and while it appears to be ‘back to square one’, both clubs said they can now at least see a way
forward.

“We’re both constantly being asked, everyone is asking about the oval redevelopment, everyone has an opinion on it and they want it to happen,” Mr Heath said.

“That is enough motivation for us to continue on with this, it’s going to be a huge commitment from volunteers to get the project off the ground.”

Mr Heath and Mr Pearce said the oval redevelopment committee would make a decision in the immediate future on what they would do with $250,000 funding already granted to the project for new female facilities.

North and South Clare have indicated they would now focus on pursuing just stage one of the proposed oval upgrade estimated to cost about $7.5 million, including new oval surface, widening of the oval, new lighting, and new amenities and clubrooms.

Mr Heath and Mr Pearce said the oval was running on limited time and the upgrade simply had to proceed.

“It has to happen, the current facility won’t last another five or 10 years,” Mr Pearce said.

“Rules, regulations and community expectations, as well as providing a safe and pleasant environment for volunteers means it will happen – we had 20 girls out for training here last night, in the current set up, where are they meant to change?

“We need to provide a facility that is commensurate to other similar facilities in the state.

“Our goal is that the next time South Clare host the grand final here in Clare – in 2022 – it will be played on our updated oval with new facilities.”

 

• Pictured: South Clare Sports Club president Nick Heath and North Clare Football Club president Ian Pearce have welcomed Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council’s ‘handing back’ of the proposed oval redevelopment to the clubs to pursue.