Featured / Sport / 20th July 2023
A question of cost: why Coona Kookas chipped in $70,000 for oval upgrade
There are few clubs across Warrumbungle Shire that would be able to shake the tip jar and fund-raise $70,000 in a matter of weeks. However, it seems Coonabarabran Rugby Union Football Club (CRUFC) has done just that. But why? Location, location!
Much-needed upgrades to Coonabarabran’s number three oval came as welcome news, with close to $900,000 in State and Federal Government funding being secured to construct a new amenities block and change rooms.
However, the location of the new facility, which was determined by Warrumbungle Shire Council, was not the preferred site of some local user groups, including the CRUFC.
Warrumbungle Shire Council mayor, Cr Ambrose Doolan, said there were two reasons Council had selected the original site adjacent to both number two and number three ovals – there were no power lines and there was enough room to build a new facility.
“When Council looked at the footprint down there, and not wanting to repeat the mistake of the Stop and Play Park, there was really only one spot that they could do it,” Cr Doolan said.
“We were also looking at the bigger picture with schools and carnivals that use both number two and number three ovals at the same time.
“The Coonabarabran Sporting Complex Advisory Committee was on board with that.”
Until some members weren’t.
Harry Clifton, CRUFC publicity officer and representative on the Advisory Committee, said the location of the amenities should be the most important part of the build.
“The original site is not user friendly at the back south-west end of the oval – it was just deemed suitable because it could fit in between powerlines, which is not a good reason to be choosing it,” Mr Clifton said.
“Not only do they have to knock down the six beautiful trees, a memorial to a past volunteer, but also the road that comes right beside the back corner of that building will need realigning, and does it need fencing?
“If you’ve got a canteen there with kids and a road, what happens there?”
At a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Wednesday, 5 April, Cr Jason Newton tabled a drawing illustrating an alternate location closer to the current amenities, which would involve relocating power lines underground and a boundary adjustment.
Michael Kelly, from John Oxley Caravan Park, came on board, kindly donating the additional land required for the project.
It is estimated the cost to underground the power lines would be in the order of $76,000, while survey costs were estimated to be $7,500.
A recommendation was put forward that all costs associated with the relocation and undergrounding of the overhead power lines, including but not limited to, the physical works, surveying and easements be funded from sources other than approved grant funding and Council funds, and that these funds would need to be secured by 31 May to enable the project to meet the funding agreement milestones.
The recommendation went on to note that if these items were not able to be achieved, the new amenities would go ahead in the original location as determined by Council.
In order to guarantee their preferred site, Mr Clifton said the CRUFC rallied, with the club putting forward $10,000, while the Coonabarabran Junior Rugby Union Football Club chipped in $5,000.
The remaining $55,000 was raised by private donors that came from supporters and ‘old boys’ of the Club.
Mr Clifton said this was an amazing response to raise this much money so quickly.
“As the Club was asked to pay the difference, we all agreed, along with the local sporting community, that the facility had to be built on the most beneficial site.
“I don’t know how many other local sporting clubs have had to contribute such a large sum of money to get a sensible outcome.”
In the meantime, the CRUFC has been able to source some cheaper quotes and have offered to carry out some of the manual work including pulling down the old canteen, with the hope of getting some of their $70,000 payment returned.
“We thought, if we can find any way to come under $70,000, that should be our money, not Council’s.
“But they’ll now be able to spend $77,000 and recover that $7,000 in GST and not be out of pocket.”
For Cr Doolan, the positive outcome for number three oval is to be commended.
“Council is very grateful to Mr Kelly for his offer and we are very impressed with how the Rugby Club raised the money,” Cr Doolan said.
“The Club also has some ideas on how to make the design better – if it is moved to where the current facilities are you won’t need as many toilets, which is a huge saving, putting more money towards making the change rooms bigger.
“We are all in this together and it is a community job. It will be a better job.”
The building will need to be completed by June 2024.
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