Merimbula Squash Club facing court dilemma

Left in lurch: Many of the Merimbula Squash Club members who could be left without courts as council looks to sell of the Main St site.
Left in lurch: Many of the Merimbula Squash Club members who could be left without courts as council looks to sell of the Main St site.

About 40 squash players could be left in the cold as the council looks to sell off the existing Merimbula courts to developers. 

The Main St site that includes the squash courts has been touted as a future Aldi development.

Adding to the Merimbula Squash Club’s woes, president Matt Fanning said he was left devastated and frustrated to find the club had lost $90,000 in government funding to build courts at the Sapphire Aquatic Centre. 

Funding was withdrawn recently as no works had been completed at the centre, while squash was also left out of the Pambula sportsground masterplan. 

“We made a submission to Ross Planning on behalf of the club, which included building a multi-use facility including movable walls,” Fanning said. 

However, the submission was not adopted so the club is facing a shaky future as developers look to source tenants for the Main St site – the most likely candidate being Aldi. 

Mr Fanning believed the club could be evicted immediately if the site were purchased. 

The Bega Squash Club offered an olive branch in a letter recently, inviting Merimbula members to play and compete in the Bega competition should the site sell. 

Mr Fanning said he was grateful, but it was almost a bandaid fix over a bigger issue. 

“Realistically there would be some of our players who could and would compete in Bega, but a vast majority would be left in the lurch,” he said. 

“We’ve got kids who ride their bikes in to play and other mums who drop the kids off and do groceries at the nearby Woolworths.

“It will be our junior ranks hurt by this.”

Mr Fanning said the Merimbula competition had become a central hub for players from Eden, Towamba and surrounding southern regions who would find it difficult to travel the extra distance to Bega. 

There are more than 50 active members ranging from 12 years old to 81, with only a handful likely able to travel and compete in the Bega competition. 

“[If we were evicted] we would effectively be left without a facility and the young people and families in particular will suffer.”

Mr Fanning said the club had been “jerked around” by council for about four years after the original closure of the courts, of which the club has now been given provisional use. 

The group fund-raised and has already spent $8000 to restore the existing courts, while anticipating the construction of new courts at the Pambula Sporting Ground or the Aquatic Centre. 

However, the withdrawal of funds meant neither was likely to go ahead. 

“We’re gutted,” Mr Fanning said. Competition will continue as normal for now.