TWO weeks after Bass Coast councillors sank plans for a sports stadium in Wonthaggi, they are having second thoughts.
The stadium was proposed for a greenfield site off McKenzie Street to be co-located with the future Wonthaggi Secondary College senior campus, with management to be shared between the school and council.
Cr Clare Le Serve plans to lodge a notice of rescission in relation to the decision, so the council can reopen negotiations with the sports clubs and potential funders, including the government. She is hopeful she has the numbers to get it through this time.
It is too late to reverse the first part of the motion, not to seek State Government funding, since the deadline for applications has passed. But she hopes to reverse parts two to four, in which the council voted not to budget for a co-contribution, not to seek other funding opportunities and not to enter into a joint use agreement to manage the stadium.
The motion to dump the project was moved and seconded by two Bunurong Ward councillors, Les Larke and Julian Brown, who argued that councillors were unaware of the requirement for the council to contribute up to $2 million until a couple of hours before the meeting.
Cr Larke also argued that it would not be prudent for the council to proceed with the project before finalising its financial plan.
The two local councillors have since copped a barrage of criticism in the local media and from sporting and other groups that had been working for several years to put the project together.
Cr Le Serve is the sole survivor of the previous council, which had worked with the Wonthaggi Basketball Association, Wonthaggi Secondary College and other groups on the project. She said she was blind-sided by Cr Larke’s notice of motion to dump the project and had not argued as strongly as she should have to convince her colleagues of its merits.
“The $2 million figure was the upper limit which would be reduced by other sources of funding, and it was not money that had to be found immediately. The basketball association had addressed the previous council to explain their plans. They didn’t feel they had to explain it again to the new council.”
In November, the council submitted an expression of interest through the Victorian School Building Authority’s shared facilities fund to develop the stadium in partnership with the Wonthaggi Secondary College and sports groups.
On February 3, the council was invited to supply additional information for its submission, a strong indication that it would be favourably received.
Since the council backed out, representatives of the State Government have indicated to the council that there is still a possibility of funding if the council position changes.