Johns sup­ports sta­dium site

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Wim­mera sports me­dia per­son­al­ity and busi­ness­man David Johns has spo­ken out strongly in sup­port of a pro­posed site for a Wim­mera in­door sports sta­dium.

Mr Johns, who an­chors 3WM’S Satur­day morn­ing Shirt­front pro­gram, said Hor­sham Show­ground was the best op­tion for the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar project.

“When you man­age to get through the mist of all the ob­jec­tions and de­bate, the pro­posal to use the north end of the show­ground and in­cor­po­rate Hor­sham Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium stands up,” he said.

“Most of the pro­posed reg­u­lar user groups for the sta­dium are al­ready within 500 me­tres of the pro­posed site. As well, the show­ground area is an eye­sore and long iden­ti­fied as an un­der­used com­mu­nity as­set.”

Mr Johns said he would ex­pand fur­ther on his thoughts on the Shirt­front sports show in com­ing weeks.

“With a grow­ing Hor­sham ex­pand­ing south quicker than any other part of the city, the show­ground site is now pretty much cen­tral to ev­ery­one. All you have to do is look at a map,” he said.

“The coun­cil doesn’t have to buy land, the ser­vices are all there and if there is a prob­lem with soil then his­tory tells us in Hor­sham that we can over­come this.”

Mr Johns said he had lis­tened to ar­gu­ments for other po­ten­tial sites, such as at or near Hor­sham Col­lege, and re­mained un­con­vinced about their ap­pro­pri­ate­ness.

“There is an is­sue on the ques­tion of avail­abil­ity to user groups if the sta­dium was at Hor­sham Col­lege. Would user groups be able to use the fa­cil­ity dur­ing school hours on school grounds? Would all users need all the checks re­quired to en­ter school grounds just to sim­ply use a com­mu­nity cen­tre? I think the school pro­posal is sim­ply coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to the whole con­cept,” he said.

“And why would we go down a track that in­cludes the pur­chase of land? Do we le­git­i­mately have the money to spend to do this?

“What many are fail­ing to see is that plan­ning must in­volve not only de­vel­op­ment, but also a need to ra­tio­nalise main­te­nance costs of pub­lic as­sets for the ben­e­fit of ratepay­ers.”

Mr Johns said as a Hor­sham ratepayer as well as a long-time sports en­thu­si­ast, he found the sta­dium de­bate frus­trat­ing.

“The way it’s un­fold­ing, we’re go­ing to have an out­spo­ken group of in­di­vid­u­als de­rail a fan­tas­tic project. For what? We are at ter­ri­ble risk of again al­low­ing a sig­nif­i­cant project in Hor­sham to stag­nate and ul­ti­mately cost more money than it should,” he said.

“It’s about time we put a bit of trust in peo­ple em­ployed and voted in by the com­mu­nity to make de­ci­sions and had some faith in the process.

“The bot­tom line from my point of view is that the coun­cil has come up with the right project and the right site.”

Im­por­tant project

Mr Johns said a new, mod­ern in­door sports cen­tre re­mained an im­por­tant project for the re­gion.

“We’re talk­ing about a lot of sports – the in­door sport­ing scene has al­ways been a huge part of life here. We have a chance to cre­ate some­thing good, not only for Hor­sham, but also the Wim­mera and greater west­ern Vic­to­ria,” he said.

“In many ways it could re­ally put us on the map.

“As a sports fan, com­men­ta­tor and ob­server, my great­est fear is that the is­sue is played out to its enth de­gree and that costs will blow out sim­ply be­cause we’ve wasted time.”

The pro­posed site of the new cen­tre strad­dles Mcbryde Street and has been sub­ject to con­cerns and protests from out­spo­ken com­mu­nity groups and a long-time civil en­gi­neer.

Lob­by­ists be­lieve the new cen­tre should be at or near Hor­sham Col­lege to max­imise po­ten­tial use and to open op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop an ex­panded sport­ing precinct.

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