By Sam Watson

THE Leongatha Velodrome is in the midst of an exciting process.

After over 20 years, the facilities are finally getting upgraded, thanks to the unity of the seven user groups, the community and the local government.

The seven user groups are the Leongatha Junior Football Club, Leongatha AusKick, Little Athletics, Senior Athletics, Leongatha Cycling Club, South Gippsland Umpires Association and the Leongatha and District Cricket Association.

And there are over 800 registered participants across those groups who regularly use the facilities, making it the most widely used pavilion/oval in the South Gippsland Shire.

The sheer number of participants, combined with the ageing facilities and lack of storage, saw an upgrade plan put in place four years ago.

That plan was to rebuild the storage area, canteen and changerooms and to add an undercover area.

To help bring that plan to life, a committee was formed with one representative from each user group.

One of those committee members is Marshall Livingston, who first joined on behalf of Leongatha AusKick.

But now with all three boys playing Sunday footy for Leongatha, he spends most of his time at the junior footy club.

He’s excited for what’s to come at the venue but he’s also very pleased with what they’ve achieved in stage one of the project.

So far, around $120,000 has seen a new storage facility installed, along with a new canteen and a large undercover area.

But there is still plenty of work to be done.

The more than 20-year-old portable change rooms are the next items on the agenda and the current upgrades have been designed so the old building can be easily pulled out and they can continue the new building along.

Something that has helped with the process so far is the three $10,000 grants they’ve received from the South Gippsland Shire.

“We’re very grateful for the $30,000 we’ve received from the shire and that’s got what we’re calling stage one underway,” Livingston said.

But it isn’t just the shire that’s getting behind the project.

The Rotary Club of Leongatha contributed $5000, and they’ve also received significant support from many local businesses who want to help make a difference.

“We’ve had so much support from local businesses and in-kind labour,” Livingston said.

“We’re very grateful for that, hopefully we’ll have a big function and recognise all those people when it’s all finished.”

To help finish the project the committee is looking to apply for a major grant.

They hope to use the funding from the major grant to build new changerooms and a common function rooms for all the sporting clubs.

“The footy rooms have served themselves well over the last 20 years or so, but it’s well and truly time we tried to get an upgrade,” Livingston said.

“One big thing we’ve found once we started down this path is that each of the seven user groups, they all have their own barbecue, PA system and other things like that. So, what we’ve done is united all those and we share our equipment and facilities, so everything runs much smoother.”

And they’re hoping the developments can help turn the venue into a community hub.

“The town has run the Christmas Carols on the velodrome in the past, so it’d be great to see that return.

“We’ve built the new undercover common area which will allow for functions like Carols and the Show and Shine.”

And Livingston said he can’t wait to see all seven user groups sharing a fully upgraded facility.

“We’re really focused on seeing combined events between the clubs and the community as a whole. It’s a brilliant facility, it has been for many, there’s just a few things we need to do to cap it off.

“It does get utilised, there’s people down here every day and it’s very important for the community’s health and wellbeing.”