THE Bass Coast Shire Council’s recent decision to not apply for State Government funding for a brand-new indoor sports stadium has generated anger across the shire.
Many are demanding that the council reverse the decision including Bass MP Brian Paynter.
He said councillors should still submit an application before it’s too late.
“This is a last gasp effort, and the decision really rests with the councillors,” Mr Paynter said.
“This grant is a gift, and they don’t come along too often. Putting in an application is really to just keep holding hands with the State Government departments.
“How hard a decision is it?”
Mr Paynter has spoken with officers from the State Government who said the council still had time to lodge a submission before other councils get in first.
“The offer is still open, but all the places for funding will be all finished by March,” Mr Paynter said.
“This indoor stadium really needs to be a part of the education precinct. They’ll go hand in hand.”
Mr Paynter said Bass Coast’s indoor sports facilities could not be compared to other shires such as Cardinia and Casey, such was the gulf.
“Unless this council is prepared to invest in the community, it’ll get worse,” Mr Paynter said.
“This really is a golden opportunity for the councillors to start making good decisions for the community.”
Wonthaggi Amateur Basketball Association (WABA) members Katrina Maxwell and Cathy Garnham made an impassioned presentation to councillors at a community engagement session on Wednesday, March 8.
“This facility was identified as a number one priority,” Katrina said.
“The door for funding is not closed. We’ve spoken with Brian Paynter about this.
“There are massive community benefits from this kind of development. This is a unique opportunity. The funding doesn’t need to be matched dollar for dollar, and that’s unusual.
“Shared facilities open up further opportunities for future funding. There are already supplementary funding applications that we could consider to lower the council investment.”
Katrina and Cathy said an indoor facility such as the highball stadium could be used not just for sports, but for the arts and other recreational uses.
“With the education precinct, this could be a real community facility, like an entertainment complex,” Cathy said.
“Being fiscally responsible doesn’t mean saying no; it means taking an opportunity when it comes.”
After several weeks of backlash from the community, councillors appear to be listening.
Cr Clare Le Serve, who has supported the idea of funding the indoor stadium from the beginning, will put forth a motion at this evening’s council meeting to rescind the decision to not apply for funding.
Bunurong Ward councillor, Julian Brown, will also move a motion in support of a future indoor sports stadium for Wonthaggi, moving to establish a Wonthaggi highball reserve fund, with money to be allocated to this fund each financial year.
The two motions regarding the future of a highball facility for Wonthaggi will be voted on at the ordinary council meeting tonight, Wednesday, March 15, at the Wonthaggi Council Chambers.