Groups re­main crit­i­cal

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Hor­sham lobby groups have used an op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on plans for a new mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar Wim­mera Sports Sta­dium to heav­ily crit­i­cise the project.

A Strate­gic Di­rec­tions Group and a Hor­sham group ad­vo­cat­ing for a Hor­sham west lo­ca­tion at Hor­sham Col­lege for the pro­posed cen­tre have pro­vided state­ments on their po­si­tions.

Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil has in­vited pub­lic com­ments on a busi­ness case and con­cept de­sign re­port for the sta­dium, ear­marked for the north­ern end of Hor­sham Show­ground and strad­dling Mcbryde Street to in­clude Hor­sham Basketball Sta­dium.

Strate­gic Di­rec­tions Group chair­man Kevin Del­lar said in as­sess­ing the vi­a­bil­ity and in­tegrity of the pro­posed sta­dium, there was a need to clearly ad­dress and for the com­mu­nity to un­der­stand cri­te­ria in­volv­ing the sta­dium.

“This has to hap­pen prior to the coun­cil giv­ing it the green light,” he said.

“It is ob­vi­ous there are se­ri­ous de­fi­cien­cies and con­cerns with the project, and many in the com­mu­nity can see red lights flash­ing to stop and have an over­due ob­jec­tive as­sess­ment and re­view.

“How­ever, it would ap­pear our coun­cil has its eyes closed to any pos­si­bil­ity it might be wrong with its po­si­tion.

“The SDG has seen ma­jor de­fi­cien­cies in the project for some time and would have ex­pected that good project man­age­ment would have re­quired an ob­jec­tive re­view some months ago.

“That this has not oc­curred is cause for se­ri­ous con­cern be­cause the com­mu­nity will wear the out­come, not our coun­cil.”

Mr Del­lar, a for­mer long-time Hor­sham coun­cil­lor, said the es­ti­mated cost of the sta­dium had dou­bled to al­most $27-mil­lion, adding this rep­re­sented more than the an­nual mu­nic­i­pal rate rev­enue and did not in­clude costs as­so­ci­ated in clos­ing Mcbryde Street.

“The new sta­dium pro­posal is un­sup­ported by a cross-sec­tion of po­ten­tial users, in par­tic­u­lar Hor­sham Am­a­teur Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion, and the busi­ness case is based on un­sup­ported as­sump­tions,” he said.

Mr Del­lar said if the coun­cil was so con­fi­dent it was right and com­mu­nity con­cerns ir­rel­e­vant, it should be pre­pared to close Mcbryde Street for a month.

“It should also point out it has not con­ducted traf­fic-man­age­ment or com­mu­nity-safety stud­ies, the his­toric Wel­don Power en­trance to the show­ground will po­ten­tially be de­mol­ished, the ex­ist­ing basketball sta­dium will have to be vir­tu­ally re­built, and Hor­sham velo­drome might have to be de­mol­ished to pro­vide ad­e­quate park­ing space,” he said.

“The coun­cil should lis­ten to the con­cerns raised by the com­mu­nity.

“It would be both wise and pru­dent to call a halt and have an ob­jec­tive re­view of the strate­gic as­sump­tions, lis­ten to gen­uine con­cerns and be pre­pared to hold open and ob­jec­tive dis­cus­sions on al­ter­na­tives that have been pro­posed.

“There is ab­so­lutely noth­ing to lose and ev­ery­thing to gain by do­ing so.”

Mr Del­lar said the project ‘had an ap­pear­ance of be­ing man­aged to achieve a pre-de­ter­mined out­come’.

“More suit­able sites at sig­nif­i­cantly less po­ten­tial cost and, sig­nif­i­cantly, that will de­liver the high­est net com­mu­nity ben­e­fit, have ei­ther been ig­nored or dis­counted,” he said.

The Hor­sham West group, which also in­cludes Mr Del­lar, and other for­mer coun­cil­lors Sue Ex­ell and Robin Bar­ber, echoed the Strate­gic Di­rec­tion Group’s sen­ti­ments, reaf­firm­ing a strong be­lief that the pro­posed sta­dium should be on a for­mer Hor­sham Tech School oval at the col­lege.

Unan­swered ques­tions

Group spokes­woman Di Bell said many ques­tions re­mained unan­swered re­gard­ing the se­lected lo­ca­tion for the multi-use sta­dium and they needed to be an­swered be­fore the coun­cil con­sid­ered the next stage.

“There are some in the com­mu­nity who do not be­lieve we need this sta­dium. Our group does see the need, but im­por­tantly that com­mu­nity con­cerns are dis­cussed and de­bated openly, that data sup­port­ing the need for the sta­dium is pro­duced for all to see, and that there is com­plete trans­parency on all the de­ci­sions and pro­cesses,” she said.

“Many in the com­mu­nity do not be­lieve this is the case. It would also be great to see some ro­bust de­bate at the coun­cil for the com­mu­nity to see that our coun­cil­lors have a good un­der­stand­ing of the project and com­mu­nity con­cerns and opin­ion, prior to mak­ing any fur­ther de­ci­sions.”

Sev­eral sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives have de­clared their sup­port for the sta­dium project. The or­gan­i­sa­tions they rep­re­sent in­clude Net­ball Vic­to­ria, Hor­sham Ta­ble Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, Hor­sham Squash Club, Basketball Vic­to­ria and Hor­sham Bad­minton As­so­ci­a­tion.

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