The town was being asked to contribute a third of the cost of the project, which would include a new two-storey building on the existing facility footprint.
Under Department of Sport and Recreation funding the department, council and club would each foot a third of the bill, which would be about $600,000 each.
Councillors were wary of contributing such a large figure without more information, saying they had only two days notice of the application and the director of finance was not available to comment on the financial implications.
‘This is a very expensive development,’ Cr Sian Martin said. ‘If council were to approve this it would be more than all the grants put together in the time that I have been on council.
‘$2 million is a lot of money for a club with 110 members.’
The council also discussed what the $600,000 could achieve if it were spent on other projects, questioning how many East Fremantle residents the club benefitted.
But club spokesman Colin Armstrong said if the decision was deferred by the council, the club’s application for funding was likely to miss the deadline and would need to wait until next year.
After the meeting, Mayor Jim O’Neill said he had only become aware of the proposal when the meeting agenda was received on the Friday night before the meeting.
‘The Fremantle Rowing Club is a great community group with a long and illustrious history and I think most councillors are supportive of the club,’ he said.
‘However we still require a lot more time and detail to enter into any sort of funding agreement.
‘To my knowledge this would have been the biggest single undertaking by the town in support of a community group and we simply need more time and information.
‘I believe it should go to a number of committees including finance.’