QUEANBEYAN City Council will spend $250,000 upgrading clubhouse facilities at Riverside Oval despite council staff’s own report on the matter recommending the project not proceed.
Councillors agreed to the funding request in closed session on Wednesday night, overriding a council staff recommendation that the proposed users of the clubhouse instead approach the Federal and NSW state governments to secure the funds.
Council’s report recommended against the project as money for the upgrades had not previously been budgeted.
Councillors however, voted to tap its parks reserve in order to top up a $450,000 Federal Government grant that was secured for the upgrades last May.
Riverside Oval is Queanbeyan’s primary dedicated soccer field and serves as the home ground for Queanbeyan City FC, who submitted the funding request, and the Monaro Panthers.
Council’s most recent funding allocation, combined with the Federal Government funding and an earlier $50,000 council grant, means the total funding for the project now sits at $750,000.
Following council’s vote in favour of the project Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall described the upgrades as a “high priority project.”
“There was a strategic policy decision made by council that this was a high priority project and one in line with the community’s vision to improve sporting facilities in Queanbeyan,” Cr Overall said of the funding allocation.
“This project is a further step in that direction which is why council decided to allocate additional funding from reserves to complete the project.”
Council’s staff report on the proposed upgrades raised concerns with the project’s overall cost while stating the upgrades would “provide limited if any other wider community use.”
The report also highlighted both Queanbeyan FC and the Monaro Panthers’ lack of financial contribution to the project, however that concern was dismissed by Cr Overall.
“Essentially this is a similar position to that which existed with the cricket club in relation to the [Freebody Oval] Cricket Pavilion and the Queanbeyan Whites clubhouse,” Cr Overall said. “Those projects were similarly secured with grant funding.”
In voicing his support of the funding request, deputy mayor Peter Bray described the current Riverside Oval facility as “substandard.”
“It does embarrass us in Queanbeyan when hosting games,” Cr Bray said. “Council has already invested in this facility but it is not up to standard. When up to scratch it will be suitable for wider community use.”
Queanbeyan City Council and the Federal Government have already invested roughly $400,000 in Riverside in recent years to upgrade lighting, irrigation, fencing and in the construction of the current kiosk.
For more on this story, see page 22.