Big win for Stawell community
Leaders behind upgrades at Stawell’s North Park are celebrating a second major funding injection to redevelop outdated facilities in as many years.
The State Government announced $600,000 to upgrade the primary building at North Park, on top of a $100,000 grant last year to create two unisex change rooms and facilities for umpires and officials.
Swifts Football Netball Club vice-president Ian O’donnell said club and community leaders were thrilled to learn of the government’s latest contribution, part of $60-million in the 2018-19 State Budget earmarked for community sporting grants.
“A bit of lobbying went on and we had to knock on a lot of doors, but it’s worth it, not only for the clubs involved but the whole community,” he said.
Mr O’donnell said representatives of North Park user groups were working with Northern Grampians Shire Council staff to deliver the project. “We’re in the process of discussing with the council whether we are going to use the money to upgrade or rebuild the facilities,” he said.
“It’s looking like we’re going to do a rebuild because Sport and Recreation Victoria came and had a look and our building doesn’t meet their standards.
“Updating it is going to cost too much so it looks like we’ll be better off knocking it down and building another one.”
Mr O’donnell said the rebuild would incorporate several elements.
“It will involve new up-to-date change rooms that meet AFL standards, with proper toilets and showers, as well as a new canteen,” he said.
“Our current canteen doesn’t meet standards either.
“We’re also looking to create a function room, which is something we don’t have at the moment.
“We want something that will be able to sit 150 people and that can be used by the whole community.”
Community to benefit
Mr O’donnell stressed the project would benefit a wide range of sporting groups, as well as the wider community.
“It’s not just the football-netball club involved, but also the athletics club, Little Athletics, interchurch netball, cricket and the fire brigade,” he said.
“We’re all part of a recreation reserve committee and we need to sit down together and work out what we’re going to do.
“We’ve still got a bit to work out, such as whether we’re going to build it in the same spot or whether we’re going to build it somewhere else.”
Mr O’donnell said project leaders would look to complete the upgrade in the football-netball offseason, but were looking into contingency plans should the project not be completed on time.
He said the football-netball club could potentially play more away games or at an alternative venue if the project encroached on the season.
“We’ve been thinking about it for a while and will make sure we cover all our bases,” he said.
“We’re really excited to get this funding. The footy club has a bit of money so we’ll be putting in a contribution. I’d say the council probably will as well. We’re looking at more than $1-million for the rebuild.”
Mr O’donnell said he had looked to other recent community building projects at Horsham’s Coughlin Park and Ararat’s Alexandra Oval for inspiration.
“We’re looking at a few other places as well. We’d love to have a set-up like Quantong, Rupanyup or Kalkee,” he said.
“We’re doing a lot of research because we want to get it right. “It’s an exciting time for the club.” Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said the upgrade would give the Stawell community, including football, netball and cricket clubs, the facilities they needed to train, compete and attract more members.
“This vital funding will help Stawell’s mighty sport teams compete and grow,” she said.
“It’s a win for local football, netball and cricket and for our community.
“Clubs like Swifts Football Netball Club are the cornerstone of local communities and that’s why we’re backing them with this record investment.”
Northern Grampians mayor Tony Driscoll said the funding would help accommodate the growing number of participants at North Park.
“We’re certainly appreciative of the government’s assistance to fund much-needed facilities at North Park and I’m confident our community will put them to good use,” he said.
Fellow Horsham District Football Netball League club Harrow-balmoral has also benefitted from a State Budget commitment, with Harrow Recreation Reserve receiving $1-million to upgrade facilities.