Centre rebuild sparks outrage
GROUP ‘LEFT IN THE DARK’
BLACKTOWN Council’s decision to redevelop May Cowpe Reserve and Rooty Hill Leisure Centre has sparked outrage from the Rooty Hill Basketball Association.
The plans to build synthetic hockey fields on May Cowpe Reserve and transform the Rooty Hill Leisure Centre into a new YMCA multi-function facility were put out for public exhibition until July 31.
Rooty Hill Leisure Centre’s long-term lease finished in 2013 and the centre has being leased month by month ever since.
A Blacktown Council spokeswoman said: “At present, basketball is not one of the programs that the YMCA propose to run in the facility.
“Basketball user groups were advised of this and council has assisted in the progressive relocation of user groups.”
Erwyn Bolina, who runs the Monday night and Thursday night social basketball group, denied he had been told their groups were not included in the YMCA’s proposal.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Mr Bolina said. “No one told us.” Mr Bolina had already started a petition to “Save Our Centre” for fear their groups would not be allowed to continue using the building.
Mr Bolina said while he knew the centre’s lease officially ended in 2013, he felt the groups that use the facility had been kept in the dark about their future.
“There’s about 600 people who use this leisure centre every week,” he said. “We have 400 people who have signed the petition.
“Our main concern is the booking - what’s going to happen to us? We haven’t fully reacted yet but now we have had enough.”
Head coach of the Braveheart basketball club McGerry Alfonso said his group had tried to find a new facility but costs and availability had prevented him from finding a suitable place.
“It’s the greatest disappointment and it’s going to be difficult for us to get a court,” he said. “I’ve tried the Police Boys Club in Whalan but they wanted us to become a member and pay a fee and they’re only available at certain times.”
A Blacktown Council spokeswoman maintained the co-lease agreement was the best option.
“Council assessed all tenders that were received before rejecting all tenders and approving further negotiations with YMCA and Hockey NSW to provide a colocated facility,” she said.
“The potential co-located facility was considered to provide the best overall outcome for the community.”
The spokeswoman confirmed it would help displaced groups to find other facilities.