Council supports Precinct re-development

Ambitious: Concept plans for the re-development of the Clare Sporting Precinct by Grieve Gillett Andersen which were presented last year. Photo: GGA.
Ambitious: Concept plans for the re-development of the Clare Sporting Precinct by Grieve Gillett Andersen which were presented last year. Photo: GGA.

The re-development of Clare's sporting precinct had a big win on Monday night as Clare and Gilbert Valleys Councillors voted to provide funding for the project.

A larger than usual crowd had packed the council chambers, many of whom donned apparel of the North and South Clare sporting clubs, to witness the decision.

On a five to three vote, councillors voted for an amended motion to the original recommendation which would see council commit $1.96 million towards stage one of the re-development.

That motion was ultimately carried, with the funds to be included in the final 2019/20 council budget.

A hot topic within the community for a number of years, the project had hit a brick wall despite concept plans by Adelaide architectural firm Grieve Gillett Andersen being presented in February last year.

It came to the forefront once again as Clare Oval played host to the 2019 North Eastern Football League Grand Final.

In May, a new committee titled the Clare Oval Redevelopment Committee was formed with the aim to breathe new life into the otherwise dormant project.

At a council workshop earlier this month, CORC made a presentation to councillors which sought $2m in funding to help get the project off the ground.

It was estimated that stage one would have a total cost of $7.7m.

To start proceedings, CORC chairperson Will Gwynn-Jones made a verbal submission to council during public question.

Council welcomed verbal submissions for the draft 2019/20 budget to be considered ahead of its adoption next month.

Mr Gwynn-Jones called for council to match a $2m commitment that it had previously made to fund the re-development.

With the bulk of the gallery in attendance to see the outcome of the Clare Oval re-development item, Mayor Wayne Thomas sought the approval of the elected members to move the item to the top of the agenda which was granted.

It was recommended that council move to defer any financial commitment to the project until after its Open Space Strategy was completed.

However, Cr Malcom Bartholomaeus moved an amendment, which stated that council commit $1.96m towards the project with the money coming from its reserve fund from the original lease of Christison Park.

Further developments to Clare Oval and other parks in the region would not be committed to until the Open Space Strategy had been completed.

The motion was seconded by Cr Nedd Golding.

Cr Bartholomaeus spoke passionately in support of the project, describing it as a "project for the region."

He said that an upgraded venue would help attract sporting events to Clare with flow on effects in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Crs Golding and Ian Burfitt echoed the sentiments, and said the funding commitment would provide support to CORC in their pursuit of further funding.

On the flip side, Crs Elizabeth Calvert and Brian Koch were both hesitant to throw their support behind the proposed motion.

In a similar scenario to a vote at last month's council meeting, Cr Calvert said she had concerns about making a commitment without a business plan.

However Cr Bartholomaeus rebutted that councillors voted to put the position of the Arts and Culture officer back into the budget despite not having a business plan, which had been of concern for him.

He said the commitment would "lay down the challenge" to CORC to get their plan into gear.

After the vote to the amended motion, Cr Bartholomaeus called for a division with Crs Burfitt, Golding, Leon Bruhn and Lucy Drummond voting in favour before it was carried.

The decision could have an impact on rates for next financial year.

Stage one would consist of upgrading lighting, club facilities including change rooms, and improving the playing surface with new turf, irrigation and drainage.

CORC would look to secure additional funding from state and federal governments.

In March, a spokesperson for state sport minister Corey Wingard confirmed to Northern Argus that the project would fall in line with it's South Australian Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan to improve sporting infrastructure across the state.