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Indoor stadium angst; community group continues to push Horsham West option

Sue Exell.

Sue Exell.

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A community group pushing a Horsham West option for a new multi-use indoor sports stadium will seek an audience with Sports Minister John Eren following Horsham Rural City Council’s ‘failure to see the bigger picture’.
The group – spearheaded by former Horsham councillors Sue Exell, Kevin Dellar, Robin Barber and businesswoman Di Bell – believes the council’s decision to green light a McBryde Street location is shortsighted and not in the best interests of the region.
Mrs Exell said group members were shocked by the council’s decision last week to endorse a project control group’s recommendation for the McBryde Street site, which includes Horsham Basketball Stadium and the northern portion of Horsham Showground.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.
“Horsham is a regional city, we need to be thinking like one. We need to provide indoor and outdoor facilities that can be used by the whole region.
“We got a good hearing from Crs David Grimble and John Robinson on the issue. They argued more information is needed to make the best decision.
“As for the others, all our arguments keep falling on deaf ears. I do not know why they won’t listen.
“The council needs to look at the bigger picture.”
The group is pushing for a Horsham West alternative for the proposed stadium, likely to cost between $8-million and $10-million.
“There are two options,” Mrs Exell said.
“The council could buy vacant farm land at Jenkinson Road and start from scratch, or a Horsham College site is also offering land,” she said.
“Horsham West is the number one growth area in the city. It says so in council documents. But there are no sports facilities there. In time, they will need sports facilities in that area.
“It might be cheaper to build it at the showground in the short term, but not in the long term.
“We don’t want the council to have to throw good money after bad.
“We need an independent expert to look at it, because if the stadium was built at the college it could be used all day, every day. You can’t do that at the showground.”
Mrs Exell said the McBryde Street site had limited potential for further development and was in a high flood-risk area.
“I can’t understand why the council can’t see how much flooding will be an issue,” she said. “The showground site is partial to flooding. You can’t build up parking bays or outside courts the way you can a stadium.
“Parking bays might be able to cope with a flood going over the top, but courts have specialised surfaces and floods will wreck them.”
Mrs Exell said community response to closing McBryde Street could make or break the project.
“That is a major road the council is looking to close down,” she said.
“How will it affect businesses? People going to work at the hospital? Parents dropping their children at St Brigid’s College?
“You can’t just close a road without consulting the community.”
Mrs Exell said the group was considering starting a petition protesting the street closure.
“I think if a petition went to the parents of St Brigid’s College students they’d be pretty angry about it,” she said.
“The petition and going to the sports minister are the two options we are working through at the moment.”
Mrs Exell said she believed the sports minister would be interested in a ‘regional approach’.
“He really supports grassroots participants and recognises that grassroots clubs are the heart of our community and they deserve modern and inclusive facilities with room to grow,” she said.
“I understand the council has timelines and grant deadlines but I feel like they are saying ‘let’s just get this thing built’ when they need to do it properly.
“More work needs to be done.
“The minister is the person making decisions on where to allocate money.
“If he is aware of the potential for a regional city to develop sporting facilities to be used by the whole region, he might just find a bucket of money.
“We are simply trying to get the best outcome for the community.”
A draft layout plan for the McBryde Street site is available for public comment.
The plan incorporates the existing basketball stadium and includes four compliant indoor multi-use courts that could cater for basketball, netball, volleyball and badminton.
The stadium will also include provisions for table tennis, squash and other activities focusing on health and wellbeing.
Cr Mark Radford, chair of the project control group, said the plan took into consideration all feedback to date, including expert advice on traffic management and flood zoning.
He said the council would also seek comment from the community and stakeholders about the McBryde Street closure.
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The entire July 12, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Jul 12 2017

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