Bowled over: council set to scale back reserve redevelopment

d494118 Tompkins Park. Picture: Jon Hewson
d494118 Tompkins Park. Picture: Jon Hewson

LONG-held plans for an amalgamated bowling facility at Tompkins Park are set for the scrapheap, with Melville council instead set to only spend money at the reserve on “essential needs”.

The council was planning on merging the Melville and Mt Pleasant Bowling Clubs as part of a multi-million dollar overhaul for the foreshore reserve, including reconfigured playing fields, a new car park and extending the existing eastern car park.

A formal death knell should be sounded when councillors at their next meeting consider a recommendation to not proceed with the redevelopment. City officers have recommended spending just over $3 million for essential maintenance and improvements, plus $300,000 for fire services and other compliance upgrades.

The project has been under review since May 2019, following the collapse of the wave park project and Melville Bowling Club’s continued opposition to the amalgamation plan.

That review showed a significant cost blow-out to the $9.5 million approved budget, with the latest estimates showing it would cost over $12 million.

The City also had to forgo a $700,000 Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund grant after sidelining the project.

Included in the list of essential maintenance works the City would undertake are improvements to the clubroom, function facilities and car park, renewal of the playground and upgrades to the floodlights.

Putting a final cross through the redevelopment and amalgamation plan would allow the City officers to commence discussions with the Mt Pleasant Bowling Club and Tompkins Park Community and Recreational Association (TPCRA) about introducing payment plans for loan repayments.

The Mt Pleasant Bowling Club committee.

Mt Pleasant Bowls Club representatives pitched their plan for Tingara Netball Club to be co-located at the bowling club’s Ardross base last December.

President John O’Brien said the Mt Pleasant bowls club had been under the impression for some time that the redevelopment would not go ahead.

“We’ve been trying to improve our revenue and membership, along with diversifying our revenue sources and bringing in Tingara,” he said.

“This is not a shock; there have been rumours or some time.

“The impact of the council asking us to pay back the loan, it would hit us strongly and throw our future into doubt.”

Councillors at Tuesday’s briefing forum asked questions about the list of essential works, if the bowls club and community association could afford to pay back the loans and how the officer’s recommendation would impact previous resolutions.

The council will make a decision at its March 17 meeting.