Keep off our turf
"PEOPLE are going to die here before they leave."
That's the message the 35 members of the City Lights Tennis Club has for the Lismore City Council.
The club's four clay courts are at risk of being demolished with the council's plans to redesign a park that would include a boulevard between Lismore Square Shopping Centre and the roundabout that links Dawson, Magellan, Brewster and Uralba streets.
"They sort of sneaked up on us with this little grand plan they had," City Lights club president Chris Bromley said.
"I think they've picked the wrong place to do this anyway because it's never going to be flood-proof.
"We don't want to stand aside because if it doesn't work it will be a tragic loss."
The club uses its facilities three days a week with most members aged in their 60s and 70s.
They enjoy playing on the clay surface because it's easier on their knees and it's away from the persistent noise and traffic at the Lismore Tennis Club on Ballina Rd.
"They (the council) put a drain in behind us and all it's done is push water into us," Bromley said.
"They've probably sprayed the weeds here half a dozen times ever, so we take plenty of ownership of the place.
"We like ambience here and it's just such a nice place to play.
"They tried to bribe us by offering three courts at Ballina St and making them clay.
"We thought about it but decided not to because they haven't got the manpower to do it well.
"No matter what, we won't be going to Ballina Street."
Council sport and recreation project officer James Voght said it was going to be difficult to keep everyone happy.
"I understand clearly where they're coming from but the problem is tennis is rapidly declining in popularity in Lismore," Voght said.
"The 12 courts on Ballina Rd aren't being utilised to their potential and we want to give the City Lights club three of the courts there.
"It's fair enough that they want to keep the autonomy of their club and I understand they want to keep playing on clay."