A backlash has occurred against the Coffs Harbour City Council’s (CHCC) plans to combine an athletics and football centre to be called the Regional Athletics Centre (RAC) at the York Street sports grounds. This response came to the surface last week in meetings attended by the sports clubs of both football and athletics and Council.
By The Editor
A report by The News of the Area (NOTA) on September 2017 covers the issue in full and highlights that councillors disagreed with a CHCC staff recommendation that the RCA should be placed at York Street. However the whole proposal was decided to be put out for ‘community consultation’ – which occurred in part last week.
Here, in part, is what NOTA reported last September;
“The proposed site for Coffs Harbour’s future Regional Athletics Centre is now in the hands of the community, after Coffs Harbour City Councillors disagreed with Council staff recommendations to house the new complex at York Street Oval.
A Council report recommending York Street Oval as the preferred site for the facility was presented to Councillors at Council’s recent ordinary meeting on Thursday, 10 September.
Council staff had investigated two potential sites for the new complex, Bruce Barnier Oval at Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park (adjacent to the hockey facility) or at York St Oval.” The full NOTA report can be found here; https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/council-deems-york-st-oval-wrong-location-for-regional-athletics-centre-58911
The following are talking points and arguments against the proposal put to council by the Northern Storm football club and their parent body, North Coast Football (NCF) last week.
Northern Storm Football Club arguments against the proposed RAC
“The current discussion revolves around two proposed sites for the RAC. Either of these choices will result in several user groups losing out, and do not allow for short to medium term growth of our sports and communities.
We believe there is a better way to solve the issues, provide all user groups with what they require and allow for the future growth of sport in the Coffs region. The major problem not addressed by the current proposals is that there is simply insufficient space to enable development of adequate facilities suitable for all user groups.
We believe that Council’s Moonee Sports Complex proposal should be brought forward, adding one more site into the mix and thereby giving all user groups sufficient space for quality facilities and future development.
Our club is strongly against the current shared proposal for York Street as there are many significant issues & additional expenses required with this proposal, including:
• Drastically reduced space for football
• Insufficient parking space.
• Overlap between the two sports which will not be workable
• No allowance for the future growth of football and other sports. Our club and the Northern Beaches region are the fastest growing in Coffs Harbour
• Loss of green space and impact on residents
• New amenities, change rooms & fencing required.
Council already has long term plans for both an RAC and the Moonee Complex, and we believe re-prioritising the timeline for these developments would solve all of the problems. This is an opportunity to provide football, athletics, all user groups and the community with dedicated long term facilities, all within Council’s own existing planning.
There are many benefits of expediting the Moonee Complex
• York Street becomes available in the short term to either be developed as the full RAC, or be used for other user groups &andspecial events.
• York Street is located in the centre of town and ideal for large special events which attract visitors.
• Room for additional community green spaces
• Increased capacity of Coffs Harbour as a sporting event hub, with potential additional income • Improved amenity, safety & access at all sites for all user groups & the community
• Reduced long term expenditure, as temporary expenditure for dual purposing is not be required.
Our club is aware that the current discussion relates only to the proposed site for the Regional Athletics Centre, however we believe any decision on that matter should consider the issues we have raised and that adding the Moonee Sports Complex to this discussion is the solution that can work for all of us.
REGIONAL ATHLETIC CENTRE WORKSHOP – Points raised by North Coast Football in support of the Northern Storm Football Club
“Football is the biggest team sport in the region,with over 5,000 players.
We also have the greatest potential to grow, particularly with women.
To do that, we need more fields, not less.
We support the construction of a regional athletics centre.
We support the position of Northern Storm in that colocation is not an option. This is not negotiable.
Football and athletics can’t co-exist at York Street.We agree with Northern Storm that the construction of the Moonee Sports Complex should be accelerated by a decade to accommodate the biggest growth suburbs in the area.
We support the local athletics community and their want for the centre to be at South Coffs Harbour.
Let’s be clear; the anchor tenant wants it at South Coffs Harbour.
We support the NSW Government’s Regional City Action Plan,which designates South Coffs Harbour as the regional sporting hub for,I quote, “community and elitesport”.
We support the residents of Park Beach and Korora. Coffs Harbour needs more green spaces where people can run, kick a football with friends or just relax and read a book.
Shoe-horning football and athletics together at York Street would create a community backlash due to noise, traffic, overcrowding, loss of public green open space, and lighting impacts on residents and visitors.
The issue is more than just York Street versus South Coffs Harbour. The issue is more than price tag “A” v price tag “B”.
The Moonee Sports Complex is central to this issue and should be incorporated into all discussions.
Further, Northern Storm will also vacate Korora when it moves to Moonee, creating more green space for the community. Why hasn’t that been discussed?
Likewise, there are bigger urban planning issues at play here. What about the residents of Park Beach? Where are they? Do they know what could land on their doorstep? Why should local residents suffer 52 weeks a year because of few weeks of visiting events?
South Coffs Harbour is made for a regional athletics centre.
We should have what Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and the Gold Coast has –the majority of the big sport sports in one place.
We want to see all sports grow –both local grassroots and visiting elite tournaments.
We want this done in harmony with all local residents and nature. The proposals supported by the biggest sport in the area and the anchor tenant are wins for the community, wins for local sport and wins for visiting sports.”
A NCF spokesperson in comments to CCO described the York Street proposal put forward by the CHCC as; “what Council officers want is nuts. They’re going for the lazy, cheap and easy option. What athletics and football want requires more work and more money. But it’s worth it in the long term.”
Lead photo: Coffs Harbour’s York Street Oval has been deemed the “wrong location” for the new Regional Athletics Centre, by Coffs Harbour City Councillors. Photo: Emma Darbin, News of The Area.