Govt greed may hurt Lennox club
By DARREN COYNE
Amalgamation and redevelopment may be hampered by drag on resources
STATE Government greed has emerged as a stumbling block to the redevelopment of the Lennox Head Bowling Club.
A planned amalgamation between the Lennox Head club and the Ramsgate RSL Club in Sydney has been hampered by State Government attempts to get as much rent as possible for crown land leased by the club.
Secretary-manager George Bowden said the rent used to be $2000 a year, but during the most recent negotiations over a new lease the State Government initially demanded $60,000 a year.
Mr Bowden said the club has been able to negotiate a 21-year lease with Ballina Shire Council officers, acting on behalf of the State Government, with an annual rent of $12,000 in the first year, rising to $20,000 by the end of five years.
Ramsgate is concerned, however, that after the initial 10-year period those rents could rise even further.
Mr Bowden said Ramsgate was prepared to inject $500,000 into the Lennox club as part of the merger deal, but was worried about the possibility of further increases in rents.
"All we are asking is that we be treated as a community facility rather than as a commercial operation," Mr Bowden said.
"The council has been fantastic but the bureacrats have to follow the edicts of the State Government," Mr Bowden said.
"Our main aim is to ensure that the club grows with the community, but we have limited resources by ourselves.
"The club since March this year has been free of debt. In fact we have a small amount of capital in the bank and are trading well.
"But we need major capital input to grow, and the board has decided that as a business it's not in our interest to go into major debt."
Mr Bowden said Ramsgate was a very affluent club which was looking for a nice place for its members to go on holiday.
The Ballina Shire Council will consider the club's lease arrangements at its meet- ing later this month.
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