LENNOX SPORT UNDER THREAT
By STEVE SPINKS firstname.lastname@example.org THE president of the Lennox Head Combined Sports Association (LHCSA), Darel Vidler, is urging members of his community to voice their displeasure at the development application of the Lennox Head Community Centre.
Vidler is concerned the community centre, which includes a skate park and emergency parking lot, will encroach on the adjoining Williams Reserve and leave sport in the town without the use of its 'spiritual' home.
The development application has been lodged with Ballina Shire Council and the date for submissions closes on January 25.
Vidler, who speaks for more than 500 members of various sporting clubs, actually supports the building of the community centre on the site on the corner of Park and Mackney lanes.
However, he and his group are opposed to the skate park and parking lot which threatens the use of the playing surface at Williams Reserve.
"The new plan is nothing like the initial plan that was shown," Vidler said.
"The skate park was originally on the western side and not on the playing field.
"We support the community centre but it needs to go in the right way."
Williams Reserve, which is crown land, has been the spiritual home of sport in the village for more than 30 years.
It was originally developed by the old Anglers Arm Social Club which was the pre-runner of the LHCSA.
The facility is used by rugby union, rugby league, cricket, Lennox Stags Golden Oldies, Lennox Head Primary School, Lake Ainsworth Fitness Camp and the Lennox Fishing Club, not to mention the large amount of residents and holiday-makers who use it for casual sport and recreation.
"Until five years ago, we did all the maintenance and work on the field," Vidler said.
The field has a clubhouse, lights and a synthetic cricket field and football field.
"I think people would be horrified to see that council are trying to sneak through a skate park and parking lot," Vidler said.
"The community centre should have parking provided on site."
Vidler said the parking should be constructed underneath the facility as other recent developers along Park Lane have had to do.
Ballina Shire Council acting general manager Rod Willis said the development application was the one preferred by council but that it was a proposal and had not yet been approved.
He said that there was plenty of time for residents to make submissions.
"I can say I am sure that any encroachment on Williams Reserve would not proceed until supplemental facilities had been provided to the sporting community," Willis said.
"If it (DA) gets approved, it can be approved in stages." However, Willis did say it was the intention of council to eventually remove all sport from Williams Reserve in line with the Lennox Head strategic plan.
The plan's intention is to make the reserve a village green with sport moved to fields outside of the village centre.