Groups remain critical
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.
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.