DERWENT Valley mayor Ben Shaw appears to be backing a new horse in a personal campaign to redevelop one of New Norfolk’s sporting facilities. Having long endorsed Boyer Oval for a major upgrade, Cr Shaw will this week ask councillors to get on board his idea to convert the Kensington Park racecourse into a multi-use sports centre.
In a Facebook post earlier tonight, Cr Shaw said he would be asking his council colleagues to back his proposal for the “biggest-ever community infrastructure spend” the region has ever seen, for “a much overdue request for sports and recreation upgrades”.
Cr Shaw’s post included a concept drawing that showed the Kensington Park Racecourse, behind New Norfolk High School, levelled and replaced with:
- Twin ovals for AFL and cricket,
- Twin soccer fields,
- Indoor swimming pool,
- Junior oval/training field on the existing high school oval.
“This will be a huge boost for sports but also the high school and broader community, with options for an indoor pool and performing arts centre in the school grounds,” Cr Shaw said. “Please note this is a very early stage concept plan, and my personal opinion – not necessarily what a final plan will look like – but if endorsed I intend on pushing it very hard as our community deserve the best.”
Cr Shaw’s notice of motion to tomorrow night’s council meeting contains no costings, but notes he has had personal discussions with the majority of sporting clubs that use council facilities and “they’ve all indicated to me that whilst they love their respective locations and spots they would most definitely consider a move to one central location of given the chance at accessing first-class facilities.”
Cr Shaw said the high school and Education Department were also on board. “I’ve spoken off the record to the school and education department and they would be willing to assist and provide land on the school site also as this will benefit the high school immensely.”
Cr Shaw’s motion makes no reference to the future of other council -owned sports facilities should his proposal be accepted, nor does it suggest where the horse trainers who use Kensington Park should go. During last year’s Federal Election he welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s continuing commitment to a $2 million sports precinct at Boyer Oval, which he also backed in his campaign for election as mayor in 2018.
In his motion he says the council’s recently-adopted “Recreation Open Space and Play Strategy” highlights the need for a sporting precinct and names Kensington Park as the prime location.
At tomorrow night’s council meeting he will ask councillors to:
- Endorse Kensington Park and surrounds as [the] preferred future multi-use sporting precinct site;
- Officially consult and seek letters of support from all sporting and school groups in the municipality
- Lobby governments to assist in funding a plan before the next election cycle or consider any funding in the council midyear budget review
- Add a sporting precinct at Kensington Park to all of its advocacy documents.
The public remains excluded from Derwent Valley Council meetings, which continue to be held behind closed doors under its coronavirus precautions.