Topics:  lismore heights bowling club, lismore workers club

Members vow to save struggling Lismore Heights bowling club

DETERMINED: President of the Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club Kel Lavis is hopeful the club can fight off closure.
DETERMINED: President of the Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club Kel Lavis is hopeful the club can fight off closure. Cathy Adams

MEMBERS of the financially troubled Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club yesterday declared their intention to take over control of the club from parent Lismore Workers Club to keep it alive.

Upon announcing the closure on Wednesday night, Lismore Workers Club said it would close the club's doors next Sunday, June 16, but would give members three months from that date to come up with a viable plan to re-open the club.

President of the bowling club Kel Lavis said it would take a "mighty effort" to make the club viable, but its 200 playing members would put "every ounce of energy" into saving the club.

FIGHTERS: Members of the Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club, from front left, president Kel Lavis, and Sarge Casagrande. From centre left, Head Greenkeeper Bob Everingham, John Donadell, and Trevor Clarke. From back left, Terry Fields, Kevin Coss, Secretary Bob Swords, and Bruno Poles.
FIGHTERS: Members of the Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club, from front left, president Kel Lavis, and Sarge Casagrande. From centre left, Head Greenkeeper Bob Everingham, John Donadell, and Trevor Clarke. From back left, Terry Fields, Kevin Coss, Secretary Bob Swords, and Bruno Poles. Cathy Adams

"It's our only hope so we're going to give it a go," Mr Lavis said.

According to Lismore Workers Club president Richard Mackney , the club is facing an estimated loss of $290,000 this year, which follows total losses of $587,000 over the previous five years.

"These losses are now threatening the viability of the entire group," Mr Mackney said.

He cited rising costs of basic overheads such electricity and rent which had "come upon us in a rush" as contributing toward the losses.

Since it took control of the bowling club in 1994 in similar circumstances, the Workers Club has injected $3 million into the redevelopment - including a second green, a new car park, and a large deck.

But if the members took the reins, Mr Mackney said they would need to "reduce the footprint", cutting back its betting facilities including TAB and pokies as well as liquor licensing, taking it back to purely a bowling club.

Members secretary Bob Swords said the club had a great reputation with locals and was known for the quality and number of tournaments on offer, with members playing five days a week.

"We've either got to show we can run it, or let it go," Mr Swords said.

The club is one of a string of bowls clubs to face closure over the last 12 months.

Lismore has three other bowling clubs in East Lismore, South Lismore and Lismore CBD, and also in Goonellabah at the Lismore Workers Sports Club.

A meeting will be held next Wednesday, June 12, at 7pm open to all club users and any interested community members to discuss the club's future.

* An earlier version of the story had the incorrect date for the meeting. This has now been corrected.



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