How your coun­cils are far­ing

Monthly Chronicle - - News -

Hornsby’ s cash headache im­pact­ing on fu­ture sports ground plan­ning

The re­draw­ing of Hornsby’s south­ern bound­ary, re­mov­ing a hefty $10m from Coun­cil cof­fers, has placed its bud­get in deficit and they’re cur­rently in limbo with its big projects till things get re­solved.

“It’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to find the money for fu­ture cap­i­tal works projects, in­clud­ing sports grounds should the bound­ary not be read­justed to where it was pre­vi­ously,” said a Hornsby spokesper­son.

Hornsby agrees it has a short­age of play­ing fields. “That’s why we pur­chased the Westleigh site, with the plan of cre­at­ing a range of new sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties that will ser­vice not only di­rect Hornsby res­i­dents but doubt­less be used by the sport­ing com­mu­ni­ties of the North Shore, Ep­ping and Ryde com­mu­ni­ties. New sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties are also planned for the Hornsby Quarry site once it is re­ha­bil­i­tated. Th­ese are two of the projects that are most at risk be­cause of our weak­ened fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.”

Coun­cil is also tak­ing other steps to ad­dress the is­sue. It’s also due to re­lease a draft Sports­ground Strat­egy that will go fur­ther than the NSROC study and make a num­ber of rec­om­mends on how Coun­cil can en­sure there are suf­fi­cient ar­eas to play sport into the fu­ture.

Ex­ist­ing fields are tired with overuse in some places. “Cur­rently more than 60 per­cent of Hornsby’s grounds are be­ing used at or over their ca­pac­ity, and it’s get­ting worse as the pop­u­la­tion in­creases and sport par­tic­i­pa­tion rates climb. Some grounds like John Pur­chase Oval at Cher­ry­brook be­come un­playable mid­way through the sea­son as a re­sult of ex­ces­sive use.”

But they are “in­creas­ing sports­ground ca­pac­ity by im­prov­ing drainage, ir­ri­ga­tion and the turf species used at grounds. Im­prove­ments to flood­lights also mean the wear from use can be spread more evenly across the whole field and there are in­ves­ti­ga­tions into syn­thetic fields.

“How­ever, there is a very fi­nite limit to the ef­fect of such mea­sures. The real so­lu­tion will be the de­vel­op­ment of new grounds at Westleigh and the re­ha­bil­i­tated Hornsby Quarry.”

Hornsby MP Matt Kean adds that “I’ve fought hard to en­sure we have plenty of recre­ational space and was proud in 2016 to have se­cured 34 hectares in Westleigh for Hornsby Coun­cil to turn into sport­ing grounds, as well as the 40 hectare Hornsby Quarry project I helped see given back to Hornsby Coun­cil to turn into park­lands and for mul­ti­ple sports uses.”

He has also awarded grants for up­grad­ing Hills Dis­trict Net­ball 17 net­ball courts at Pennant Hills Net­ball Cen­tre, for im­prov­ing the tar­tan long jump run­way at Fox­glove Oval to North­ern Dis­tricts Lit­tle Ath­let­ics Cen­tre, and for build­ing a new syn­thetic pitch for Berowra Cricket Club.

Ku- ring- gai sports fields un­der pres­sure

The chal­lenge Ku-ring-gai faces is that more land for sports fields is lim­ited and ex­pen­sive to buy, so Ku-ring-gai Coun­cil has its sights set on part­ner­ships with De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Greater Syd­ney Com­mi­sion, as well as op­ti­mis­ing ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties with syn­thetic fields and flood­light­ing.

“Most flood­lit sports grounds are at ca­pac­ity dur­ing the win­ter sea­son,” said a spokes­woman. “Cer­tain sports such as net­ball are un­der- re­sourced for flood­lit fa­cil­i­ties, forc­ing a cap on en­rol­ments.”

She said that soc­cer has the high­est par­tic­i­pa­tion num­bers and ben­e­fits most from the syn­thetic fields. Other sports such as AFL, net­ball, bas­ket­ball and ath­let­ics have all ex­pressed the need for more fa­cil­i­ties, which it’s work­ing hard to ad­dress.

“In the last five years Ku-ring-gai has been proac­tive in cre­at­ing new sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties - for ex­am­ple the North Tur­ra­murra Recre­ation Area in­tro­duced two full size flood­lit turf fields, one full size flood­lit syn­thetic field and three cricket nets. Koola Park Kil­lara was for­merly three full sized non­flood­lit turf fields, which now has a fourth field and flood­light­ing for all fields. The Coun­cil has also in­stalled a syn­thetic field at Charles Bean, Lind­field and is work­ing on con­vert­ing two fur­ther fields to syn­thetic at Nor­man Grif­fiths Oval, West Pym­ble and War­ri­moo Oval, St Ives.”

Foot­ball at St Ives Show­ground

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