Upgrade hope for Darley Park

Plans for a $2.25 million upgrade of Darley Park could be a step closer to reality.

A Darley Park Recreation Reserve user group presented a business case to Moorabool council last week for consideration in this year’s budget.

The business case outlines a proposed hub that would include youth facilities, unisex changerooms, public amenities and a venue that would have meeting rooms and capacity for about 500 people.

An AFL Goldfields report in 2016 stated that the park needed upgraded changerooms, umpire changerooms, netball facilities, lighting, netball courts and a multi-purpose pavilion.

Darley Football Netball Club president Ray Newton said the club had outgrown its home grounds, having expanded from three junior teams three years ago to 21 this season.

He said the user group’s vision for the park would benefit the entire local community.

“The proposed extended use of the centre, well beyond bringing it up to the standard required for sporting clubs, will provide employment opportunities in Darley where they are currently very limited,” Mr Newton told the council meeting.

“It will attract, and cater for, far more users than it currently does and should, in fact, be managed to become a revenue source to provide back to the community in return for investment.”

The user group – which comprises sports clubs, community groups and recreational users of the park – has proposed putting up $250,000 for the upgrade and requested that council contribute $1 million, with the balance to be sourced from federal or private

Council infrastructure general manager Phil Jeffrey supported the proposed plans but recommended the project be referred to the council’s capital improvement program for assessment against other projects and consideration for future funding.

“All clubs are experiencing high demands and the number of teams are increasing across all sports,” Mr Jeffrey wrote in a report tabled at the meeting.

“The introduction of female football, in particular, has highlighted the inability of the ageing pavilion to adequately cater for this growth. The lack of appropriate community function and meeting space within Darley has also been raised.

“Officers agree that the facilities need to be improved to cater for the rapid development of female football.

“Whilst the proposal does have some merit, it is difficult to foresee how council could accommodate a financial contribution of this magnitude.”