Winners and losers
IT’S an uneven game when it comes to the mowing of sports ovals on the Southern Downs.
While sporting clubs and associations in the former Warwick Shire areas look after their own grounds, the Southern Downs Regional Council is still paying for the upkeep and maintenance of sports facilities in Stanthorpe.
The situation was raised last month when council agreed to pay $6000 for the turf wicket at CF White Oval in Stanthorpe.
While they played down a geographical split, the elected officials from the northern end of the region voted against the proposal but were outnumbered by their southern counterparts.
An officer for council’s department of engineering confirmed: “Except for some minor areas, council would normally maintain all the council-owned sports fields in Stanthorpe, which would include slashing, ground and wicket maintenance. All former Warwick Shire Council sporting fields are maintained by the sporting clubs who lease the areas.”
The council maintains more than 150 parks or open spaces across the region and is currently conducting a review, due to be concluded this month.
Supporters of the system in the south argue it’s a customer service obligation and of significant benefit to the vast number of community members who use the various sports grounds.
Proponents say they would like to see the scheme rolled out across the region to even up the score.
However, preliminary estimates suggest just maintaining Queens Park and St Marks Oval would cost up to $220,000.
Councillor Neil Meiklejohn said the most difficult part was deciding where to start and where to stop.
In Stanthorpe the maintenance relates mainly to one sports complex, but in the region’s north, facilities at Killarney, Allora and Morgan Park would also need to be taken into consideration.
“That could cost up to $0.5 million,” Cr Meiklejohn said.
“I don’t know if that’s an acceptable burden to ratepayers.”
Col Bloomfield, former chief executive officer of Killarney Recreation Club, said a low interest loan from council allowed the club to get up and running and it kept going with fundraising throughout the year.
But maintaining the football field, polocrosse field, tennis courts and golf course was no mean feat.
“We are happy at the moment but it would be good if there was a little bit more support,” Mr Bloomfield said.
Although he wasn’t convinced council paying for all the maintenance was the answer, he agreed it was unfair to do the work in Stanthorpe and not in the northern end of the region.
“It needs to be evened out,” he said.