Pambula squash courts get tick of approval from BVSC

Disillusioned  Merimbula squash  club members after they learned that the proposal to build new courts was stuck in limbo  after  the DA  failed to be passed at the April council meeting.
Disillusioned Merimbula squash club members after they learned that the proposal to build new courts was stuck in limbo after the DA failed to be passed at the April council meeting.

Tenders will now be called for the  construction of two squash courts adjacent to the Sapphire Aquatic Centre (SAC) site, Pambula Beach.Local squash players have had to travel to Eden squash courts for a game since the Merimbula courts in council's Main Street building were closed by the council in 2013. The building is now due to be demolished.    

It was a modified development proposal and significant reduction in costs that won the hearts and minds of all councillors at council's October 1 meeting, after a tortuous three-year-long battle by the community to get the project off the ground.

It will see the construction of two courts instead of three  ( with potential for a third at a later stage)  and a shared use of the aquatic centre facilities instead of the original concept  which had included toilets and shower/change rooms  as part of the development.

It is expected that the addition of squash court facilities to the aquatic centre will boost use of the  centre particularly in the evenings and offer cost advantages.

Council's group manager transport and utilities Wayne Sartori said that an indicative court booking fee of $15 an hour would cover the operating costs for the courts and the additional SAC staff costs. He suggested the operating hours for the two facilities should be the same  plus additional evening opening to 8pm. Opening beyond  those hours would be by arrangement, and the costs for extended use would be borne by the squash club. 

"It is anticipated that any extended opening hours would boost numbers of pool and in particular gym users. "Additional revenue raised by this increased usage will reduce the overall  operating costs for the SAC," Mr Sartori said in his report on the matter.    

"The overall package is sustainable," he told the council. 

It was moved by Councillors  Russell Fitzpatrick and Kristy McBain, "That council endorses the proposal  to progress with construction of two squash courts by inviting tenders, retaining the ability to expand the facility in the future if required."

Cr Taylor, who had blocked the development proceeding by way of a rescission motion that he lodged at the April 16 council meeting  to allow for his motion to be put calling for a report  on the Pambula Sporting Complex Management Plan which was passed,  acknowledged he had been hesitant in promoting the project. 

He commended council staff and the community on the result that now made  the project  an affordable  fit with council's budget. 

"We can afford it and I am happy to support it."

The motion was put and passed unanimously. (Cr Ann Mawhinney had declared a pecuniary  interest,  and had  departed from  the chamber.) 

The result drew spontaneous applause from three community members in the gallery who  have fought hard for the project and were among  its prime instigators - Colin Dunn, Jill Hambling and Daryl Dobson.

After the council meeting Mr Dunn said  they were "absolutely thrilled " with council's decision to approve the development.

"It's been given the green light to proceed. We ask council to leave no stone unturned as it proceeds to the next stage and we would like to think the courts will be open for the Easter holidays,” Mr Dunn said.