Town's new netball courts stoke controversy
THE committee of a North Burnett netball club has sought to explain the controversial choice of location for its new courts.
Monto Netball Association secretary Tara Harm placed a lengthy post in the Monto Buy, Swap, Sell and More Facebook group, saying that "many in the community are querying why our courts were being relocated to the current construction site”.
The netball association received a $165,000 grant in October 2017 from Round 6 of the State Government's Get Playing Places and Spaces program to replace their aged courts located beside the carpark at Monto Combined Sports Grounds.
Mrs Harm told the Times that a "lot of locations were thrown in the mix” before the association, working closely with the council, settled on the space between the athletics track and main football oval, at the far side of the sportsgrounds.
Locations discussed included Apex and Jaycee parks, as well as near the water tower, but these were all ruled out for various reasons, including that all these locations would require significant facility upgrades to be able to host sporting competitions, which the council was unable to budget for.
Mrs Harm said simply upgrading the courts where they currently were was also off the table, as they were constructed over a sewerage line, which needed council attention.
Another location continuously raised, beside the toilets and change rooms (the two grey buildings to the right of the current courts) was also not feasible, as it was also located over a sewerage line, which would be problematic if the line ever needed work.
"We thought it was smart to stay away. You wouldn't build your house over it, that pretty well sums up the decision to steer clear,” she said.
She said one benefit of the new location is that future carnivals won't be as "segregated”, as the two new courts would be nearer to grass courts locations.
Mrs Harm said the association faced time pressures to come to an agreement with the council, otherwise they were at risk of having to forfeit their grant money.
"The location isn't ideal but we look forward to making the most of it and creating a great space for our netball community,” Mrs Harm said.
She noted that council have been "very supportive” throughout the process and listened to the association's concerns.
"They looked at what's best for the community, we looked at what's best for the club,” Mrs Harm said.
She said the association, in time, would look at making their new home on the sportsgrounds more comfortable, requesting support from council to create an access road to the courts, seeking grant money to install lighting, a storage shed, and constructing a third court (pictured in the map but not currently funded).
Mrs Harm said the association understood the council's budgetary constraints and a need for both organisations to accord with one another.
"Council is our governing body, we need their support moving forward and we have a lot more work to do,” she said.
She said the association was looking at the positives.
"We're getting these amazing facilities comparable with those in major cities that Netball in Monto has never had before,” Mrs Harm said.
In a nod to civic pride, the acrylic-topped courts will be pink and blue, the team colours.
"To our knowledge, we don't know anyone who has pink courts,” Mrs Harm said.
"We thought we'd go all out to stand out and represent our Monto club.”
Mrs Harm's Facebook post in the community group received messages of support from the community.
She said the courts would be completed in around six weeks.
A council spokesman said the choice of location for the new courts would still allow for the proposed expansion of the athletics track to a full 400m track, due for completion in the next 12-18 months.
He noted that control of the sportsgrounds has reverted back to the council following the end of the Monto Combined Sports Association Inc's leasehold.
"Council has taken back responsibility of the grounds and will be forming an advisory committee with members from each of the user group clubs to manage the site in collaboration with our sporting groups,” he said.
Council's new sport and recreation officer Sally Galloway starts her role on September 9.