ABOVE: Gymnastics class at the Youth Centre. Alan Page (with beard) has been a volunteer at the Youth Centre since 1971. AT RIGHT: Traeger Park oval.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Where to put $6.2m from the NT Government grant for new sporting infrastructure?
That’s the question the town council’s Sports Facilities Advisory Committee (SFAC) is putting before the public after Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield announced the grant in the Budget.
It’s a first: The NT Government is spending the money in collaboration with the council rather than making the decisions in Cabinet.
The advisory committee is headed up by Dr Bruce Walker and has nine members from the town’s sporting fraternity and three Town Councillors.
He says the money is for facilities and not running costs or routine maintenance that is handled through the normal Council SFAC functions. Part of the deal is an immediate update of the current sport facilities master plan which is in the seventh of its nine years.
Some 75% of the current plan’s projects have been achieved: Upgrade of Anzac Oval including a grandstand; indoor netball, gymnastics at the youth centre and a better sound system and toilets for Traeger Park.
A notable proposal for a synthetic running track at Head Street Oval was dropped. It would have required fencing the whole area which was not endorsed by residents of the Northside. Athletics needs will be reconsidered in the review.
The plan’s remaining ideas will be subject to the review starting now, with broad public involvement.
Dr Walker says these include a lit sporting area, size yet to be determined, which may have a synthetic grass surface. It would be used for winter training by the football codes and have lights that could also be used in summer.
Why? It gets dark soon in winter. Why synthetic? Because grass does not grow much in winter and doesn’t stand up well to studs on boots used in vigorous exercise.
More can perhaps be done on grass for athletic training, particularly if the lighting is improved, and facilities for field sports such as javelin and shot put throwing are upgraded.
The tennis courts are another issue likely to be looked at, says Dr Walker: Their surfaces are worse for the wear. Should they be repaired? Or renewed? If so, where?
The parking and traffic in Traeger Avenue has long been a headache.
Much the same goes for hockey which was last upgraded when the Traeger Park grandstand was built 10 years ago. A number of sports have expressed willingness to collaborate if a new multi function facility is developed.