By Kirra Grimes
THE Leongatha Basketball Association is cautiously optimistic that its calls for action to address “substantial and ongoing” roof leaks at YMCA South Gippsland SPLASH are finally being listened to after “falling on deaf ears” for several years.
The association’s president of four years and long-term committee member, Dan Monaghan, recently got in touch with the Sentinel-Times to draw attention to the issue, frustrated that the South Gippsland Shire Council had been slow to act after recent heavy rains created a slipping hazard on the indoor courts, forcing the committee to cancel several nights of competition.
“We’re facing ongoing issues in the hiring of basketball courts at SPLASH,” Dan said.
“When it rains, the courts become a risk and we need to take some action or an accident will occur,” he said, adding that the recent “inclement weather” had exacerbated the problem, but that it was “not an isolated case”.
Dan said management at SPLASH had been “excellent” to deal with, and always “did their best,” but Council, which owns the facility, could have done more to prevent the cancellations, which affected over 400 players and helpers.
“This is not the first time we have raised these concerns,” he said.
“Right from the start, when SPLASH first opened, there’s been ongoing issues with the roof leaking, over many years.
“It’s been leaking for over six weeks, with the heavy rain we’ve been having, and then when we had to cancel both nights of basketball and stop 400 kids playing; it all came to a head.”
To their credit, Dan said, Council staff came out to meet with him and sent a plumber to assess the leaks the day after he sent them photos and video showing the extent of the issue.
But it remains to be seen, he said, whether Council’s response will provide the long-term solution the basketball association’s been looking for, or just another “temporary measure”.
“At least they’re planning to try to stop the leaking – you’ve got to be happy with that,” he said.
“They’ve been on the front foot and in regular contact; I liked the professional approach.
“But it hasn’t been like that in the past. And when we’re paying to rent the courts, we felt we deserved better.”
A key issue in getting the issue the attention it deserved from Council was that “they don’t realise how big basketball is” in Leongatha, Dan said.
“We take for granted that we have 400 kids here over two nights every week; we have a seniors comp; training… and it’s a great outlet for kids to learn skills and socialise.
“We want [Council] to be aware of how many kids this is affecting.
“Particularly when players are paying $8-$10 a game, over a season. We’re worried people won’t come back if it keeps getting cancelled. Parents will think it’s not worth the money.”
In response to the Sentinel-Times’ enquiries, a Council spokesperson said crews had investigated the leaks caused by “unprecedented” heavy downpours, and that they would be “taking steps to repair the roof when the weather improves”.
“Council are currently seeking prices from specialist roofing companies to repair or replace the problem section of roof at SPLASH.
“As the works are not necessarily minor in nature, they will likely need to commence during the drier months of the year.
“We understand that the disruption has already been difficult for stadium users and it is possible that there may be further disruption until we can fix the roof,” the spokesperson said, adding that YMCA and Council staff would be “on hand to attend to any clean-up of water during rain events”.