Johns supports stadium site
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.”
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.