Gisborne’s Gardiner Reserve upgrades given go ahead

A major cost blowout will not stop two pavilion upgrade projects for Gisborne’s Gardiner Reserve from getting underway before the 2020 game season.
Macedon Ranges Council agreed to allocate $20,000 from its Public Open Space Financial Reserve and to run a $462,099 short-term budget deficit to fund the project.
Reserve user groups have spent years campaigning for the works that include both football/cricket and netball/umpires pavilions to offer female-friendly facilities and disability access.
Gisborne Football Netball Club president John Wood said the “explosion” in popularity of female football and cricket had pushed the project’s need to ‘urgent’.
“Gardiner Reserve has the highest female use and participation in sports of all the shire reserves. It’s only going to grow from here,” he said.
A month delay in council decision-making around the funding may mean works will continue into the beginning of the 2020 season but was a move councillors felt necessary to clarify new costs and components.
Two state government grants totalling $530,000 have been secured for the projects but Macedon Ranges Council reported tenders received were on average 40 per cent over pre-tender estimates, despite opting for a lower-cost modular build.
There was no challenge to the need and urgent nature of the project but from where the remaining funds were drawn was in contention.
Council officers had originally recommended the sum be allocated from developer contributions in the Public Open Space Financial Reserve for the South Ward.
But the significance of the upgrade and queue of projects vying for funds in the south prompted Cr Helen Radnedge to champion use of shire-wide funds.
“The reserve has been deemed a regional-level facility by the AFL and it’s the shire’s most utilised oval – it’s not just a local public open space,” Cr Radnedge said.
“Taking all the funds from the Public Open Space Financial Reserve for the South Ward would seriously impact on many other projects…By running a short-term deficit it leaves more options open as to how to fund this facility.”
Crs Henry Bleeck, Mandi Mees and Roger Jukes challenged the move, while Cr Andrew Twaits stated using shire-wide funds would support the original funding intentions for the project. The motion was won 6-3.

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