Cen­tre re­build sparks out­rage

GROUP ‘LEFT IN THE DARK’

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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.

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