Council urged to reconsider grants for Barkly Park

User groups of Barkly Park have encouraged Indigo Shire Council and the Committee of Management to come together and resolve discrepancies surrounding future plans for Barkly Park.

User groups of Barkly Park have encouraged Indigo Shire Council and the Barkly Park Committee of Management to reconsider applying for a $1 million guaranteed state government for new female friendly changerooms.

In a letter addressed to the Free Press, the Rutherglen Cats and Murray Felines responded to the article included in last week’s edition titled ‘Barkly Park upgrades ‘urgent’”.

“We agree entirely with the sentiment of the article that improvements are urgently needed at Barkly Park to bring the facilities up to current standards and address the concerns and requirements of our 160 female participants,” the letter read.

“The changerooms can be best described as ‘primitive’ and the netball court has a number of significant issues.

“We also note that encouraging female participation in sport is a major focus of the State Government and that there are significant grants currently available that, if applied for, would address most of the serious shortfalls of the facilities at Barkly Park.”

The two user groups responded to comments by the Barkly Park Committee of Management that they had rejected $300,000 from council to renovate the existing changerooms at Barkly Park.

“The user groups at Barkly Park did not sign up to these ‘renovations’ as we strongly believe that this plans, as they were presented to us, were significantly flawed and that it was highly unlikely to be approved by the municipal building surveyor.

“The plans were non-compliant with the AFL Guidelines and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as a starting point.

“The plans would also have had major unintended cost ramifications in that the rest of the building would also have to brought up to the current BCA standards. Major alterations would have been required in terms of fire systems and all abilities access This would have cost in excess of $300,000 alone.

“Without going into too many details, both the Building Code of Australia and the AFL Preferred Facilities Guidelines stipulates a minimum of three showers and toilets per change rooms. There also needs to be adequate facilities for people with disabilities. The proposed renovation plans did not satisfy any of these requirements.”

The Barkly Park user groups also stressed that “it would be very unlikely that the Department of Sport and Recreation Victoria would ever agree to fund a change room project for a second time if it was proven that the first renovation failed to meet expectations.”

“The user groups have been united in rejecting this option and urging the Barkly Park Committee of Management and Council to explore the $1,000,000 option that is currently available from the Department of Sport and Recreation Victoria in better detail.

“We have already developed concept plans and a functional layout of female friendly changerooms that would address all the building requirements. We can also provide an estimate for these works.

“There are also a number of other initiatives such as a new netball court and resurfacing of the existing netball court at Barkly Park that are urgently required. Once again, funding is currently available to address these serious issues.”

The Rutherglen Cats and Murray Felines clubs’ said council’s decision to fund another master plan was “unnecessary”.

“Council have offered a process whereby they would apply for a master plan funding on our behalf. This process is unneeded as we already have a new master plan prepared by Regional Design Service,” they said.

“A copy of this master plan is available on the Rutherglen Cats Facebook page.

“We believe that Indigo Shire Council could address our concerns of the inadequate facilities today if they so wished.

“We would welcome a meeting with councillors and council staff to discuss the current situation and to see what we can do to strive for a community facility that is fit for purpose, and we are proud to be associated with.

“The unfortunate reality is that while we are needlessly undergoing this sad and protracted process, it is our 160 female participants that are missing out on adequate and respectable facilities.”