A POSSIBLE merger of Joondalup United and Whitford City soccer clubs is on the cards in a bid to find Joondalup United a suitable home ground.
The City of Joondalup had proposed upgrades at Forrest Park in Padbury to allow for a second senior soccer field and enable expansion of the club, which currently spreads itself across Forrest Park, Beldon Park and Charonia Reserve in Mullaloo.
Works would include replacing and relocating the playground, upgrading the sports floodlighting and removing eight trees.
The proposal was advertised for public consultation for three weeks, which ended on July 4. A council document from this month’s briefing said the feedback from the 251 respondents was overall supportive, although residents within 200m of the park had concerns.
Three Aussie rules clubs currently using Forrest Park, including the Northern Warriors Veterans Football Club, were also concerned they may need to move to accommodate Joondalup United.
City officers had recommended the council defer its decision on the Forrest Park upgrades for 12 months to enable the City to further investigate the project, including the relocation of the three clubs.
At the briefing, several Padbury residents raised concerns about the proposal.
These included turning the 3.1ha park into a home ground for a senior soccer club, the park not being big enough, not having all the information during community consultation, the relocation of the playground closer to a facility that served alcohol and the removal of trees.
Sally Kenton, a member of the Forrest Park Locals Group, asked the City to reject the proposal rather than defer it.
The group presented a 334-signature petition, of which 277 were Padbury residents, opposing the project.
“The number of signatures exceeds the number of responses to the community consultation,” Ms Kenton said.
“We have never been consulted on how that park should be used and until 2014, the year Joondalup United secured a booking at the park, the impact of sporting use did not greatly affect the residents’ access or liveability.
“Since 2014, the loss of amenity has become a significant issue.”
Another Padbury resident asked if the club could have its home ground at the Beldon or Mullaloo reserves it uses, but corporate services director Mike Tidy said the buildings and infrastructure at those parks were “hopelessly inadequate” and would cost several million dollars to upgrade.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, councillors were to consider applying for the Department of Sport and Recreation’s 2017-18 Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) for sports floodlighting upgrades at Warrandyte Park in Craigie – the home of Whitford City Football Club – and the Forrest Park upgrades.
The report stated the City had $700,000 listed for consideration in 2017-18 for the Warrandyte Park floodlighting and would apply for a grant of $176,194 but there was no funding for the Forrest Park upgrades because Joondalup United had initiated the project.
The upgrades could cost between $533,000 and $930,000 and would be funded by the City, Joondalup United and the CSRFF.
Mayor Troy Pickard said Joondalup United’s aspirations did not align with how the Padbury community wanted their local park to be used and with the club’s long-term hope to expand and enter the National Premier League WA, the usage would go “above and beyond” what the park was originally designed for.
He said he had been discussing with Joondalup United and Whitford City about a possible merger with a home ground at Warrandyte Park and with Whitford City’s present struggles and Joondalup United’s “significant pool of volunteers”, a merger would benefit both clubs and soccer in the community.
He moved an alternative motion for the council to defer its decision on both the Warrandyte Park floodlighting and Forrest Park upgrades until next month’s meeting “to enable negotiations on a possible merger of both clubs to then allow the new club to operate its home base from Warrandyte Park”.
Mr Pickard said Warrandyte Park was designed to be a large active space, with three senior soccer pitches, a clubroom with kitchen and significant car parking.
He said the 8.1ha park would need a “slight upgrade” to accommodate a bigger club, including a patio extension and toilets and changerooms for umpires, which he estimated could be done for $500,000.
However, the project would no longer be eligible for a CSRFF grant.
The alternative motion was unanimously approved.