TUCKED away at the end of this week’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting is agenda item K1 listed simply as ‘Acquisition of Strategic Recreational Land’.
The matter is likely to be considered behind closed doors but could ultimately pave the way to the development of a full-service recreation facility for Phillip Island, covering 80 acres of land presently known as the ‘Carnival Site’ on the corner of Ventnor Road and Phillip Island Road.
Watch this space for further details.
The news that the shire council is considering the compulsory acquisition of the site comes a day after the shire announced that the Cowes Primary School’s swimming pool would not be open for the summer holiday period again.
They’ve said its for COVID reasons but the community of Phillip Island have long since disregarded the facility as an option for the community, despite the fact that the Phillip Island Shire contributed to its construction back in the day.
Secretary of the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Fund Inc Peter McMahon said the decision not to have the primary school open for the summer simply highlighted the lack of learn-to-swim and aquatic centre facilities on the Island.
But he’s hopeful of a step change in the future of the project as a result of Council deliberations in the past week and a likely decision on the acquisition of the Carnival Site at this week’s council meeting, Wednesday, December 16.
Despite being small on detail in the council meeting agenda, the brief item could lead to the biggest value project in the Bass Coast Shire Council’s, or Phillip Island Shire’s history – the acquisition of a 80 acre site and the development of a masterplan involving almost all recreation on the Island from football and netball, to soccer, swimming of course, bike trails, passive recreation and more.
The council agenda makes the following explanation: “It is recommended that the meeting be closed to members of the public pursuant to Section 66 (a) of the Local Government Act 2020, to consider this item as it deals with Council business information, being information that would prejudice the Council’s position in commercial negotiations if prematurely released.”
“Today’s council meeting will be very interesting, if not in open council, but what they might discuss behind closed doors as well,” Mr McMahon said, referring to the proposal to compulsorily acquire the land known as the Carnival Site,” Mr McMahon said.
“Our group came up with a plan, which the sporting groups of Phillip Island are all supportive of, giving Council the community support it needs to go ahead and buy the land and to prepare a Recreation Masterplan for Phillip Island.”
Mr McMahon said the project ticked all the boxes where necessary community services were concerned, but also the key aim of visitor growth, evening out the peaks and toughs created by major events, by adding other activities that would draw groups throughout the year.
“We’ve got the accommodation here already and it’s well-known as a destination.
“For example the CYC (Christian Youth Camps) already attract 40,000 to 50,000 people to the Island annually but if we could develop a recreation centre with high-standard facilities including a 50 metre pool, gym and health centre facilities, major indoor sports facility for basketball, netball and multi-use sports, two full-size soccer ovals, two football grounds, four netball courts, bike trails, dog walking areas and a large, visitor carpark and receival point where people could get a local bus to all points on the Island; we could attract sports groups and events right through the year.”
It is the missing link, he says, in the sustainable development of the Island.
And with a rapid increase in the permanent population of the Island over the past two years, the community is crying out for such a development.