THE proposed site for Coffs Harbour’s future Regional Athletics Centre is now in the hands of the community, after Coffs Harbour City councillors disagreed with Council staff recommendations to house the new complex at York Street Oval.
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A Council report recommending York Street Oval as the preferred site for the facility was presented to councillors at Council’s recent ordinary meeting on Thursday, 10 September.
Council staff had investigated two potential sites for the new complex, Bruce Barnier Oval at Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park (adjacent to the hockey facility) or at York St Oval.
Bruce Barnier Oval was recently recommended by Council as the site for the new $12.5 million Regional Indoor Sports Centre.
If located at Bruce Barnier Oval, the new Regional Athletics Centre would lie adjacent to the Regional Indoor Sports Centre.
At Council’s recent meeting, Cr Sally Townley instead recommended councillors place the Council report on the Regional Athletics Centre on public exhibition for a period of 28 days, to seek input from the local community.
The Regional Athletics Centre is proposed to contain a 400 metre eight-lane all weather synthetic-surfaced track, long jump pits, shot put circles, pole vault, javelin, high jump, and combined discuss/hammer facilities, a warm up track (minimum four lanes), amenities building, kiosk, change areas, spectator area and a car park.
The permanent year round centre will be used for national, state and local athletics, football, cricket, Oztag and touch football.
Cr Townley said there was no “perfect fit” for the site.
“It’s a big investment; we all really want it to happen, but we all really want to get it right,” Cr Townley stressed at the recent meeting.
“There’s been a considerable and passionate amount of advocacy by the champions of obtaining a Regional Athletics Centre for Coffs Harbour.
“Put the whole report out on exhibition to see if we can gather a bit more community feedback and input before we go to the next stage.”
Cr Keith Rhoades said York Street was the “wrong location” for the new sporting site, and called for it to be positioned within Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park.
“To put a major facility like that smack bang in the middle of a residential area just bewilders me,” Cr Rhoades said.
“We’ve already got a regional precinct for sport between the highway and Stadium Drive.
“I really do hope that we get those sporting organisations write in and say ‘York Street is the wrong location’.”
Cr Paul Amos also spoke against Council’s recommendation to locate the athletics centre at York Street Oval.
“York Street simply won’t work,” Cr Amos said.
“This is a waste of land to put it down there; it doesn’t mesh with our public realm down there.
“I think by putting it out to public exhibition they (the community) will come back with the same answer.”
Track and field athletics in the Coffs Harbour region currently operates from October to March each year on seasonal grass tracks at Toormina Oval and Woolgoolga Sportsground.
Over the winter months, a four-lane temporary grass track is created at a Coffs Harbour sports field to enable year round track training to continue.
C.ex Coffs International Stadium is also made available to host school athletics carnivals.
Local athletics groups have planned and lobbied for a Regional Athletics Centre to be established in Coffs Harbour over a number of years.
A regional athletics facility in Coffs Harbour has been nominated as the number one priority across the State by Little Athletics NSW and Athletics NSW.
Cr Townley’s motion to put the Council report on the Regional Athletics Centre site on public exhibition for 28 days was carried by councillors at the recent meeting.
According to the report, the establishment of the centre will be dependent on funding being provided by the State and/or Federal Governments, with the contribution of Council being the provision of land.
By Emma DARBIN