A $6.4 MILLION master plan to upgrade the George Park sporting precinct can only be a good thing for Bathurst.
The proposed five-stage upgrade will see new change rooms and an amenities block built at George Park 1, the establishment of a long overdue sealed car park to service both ovals, upgraded lighting on both fields and a complete reconstruction of the playing surfaces with new irrigation and drainage.
There will also be new playground equipment, players’ shelters on George Park 1 and grandstand-style tiered seating in front of the clubhouse at George Park 2.
The deteriorating retaining wall between the two ovals will be renovated and a perimeter fence will be erected around the whole precinct, along with steel picket fencing erected around each oval.
Councillors are expected to rubber stamp the master plan at their monthly meeting on Wednesday night, making George Park just the latest in a long line of sporting upgrades in recent years.
Of course, you can’t please everyone.
As we’ve seen several times before, the community reaction to news of such an upgrade will always be mixed – ranging from those who loudly applaud the news to those who demand to know why [again] it is sport that is receiving the support from council.
The best answer, though, is that it’s not always sport.
Council contributes millions each year to this city’s cultural assets, as is entirely appropriate.
From upgrading the lighting and climate control at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery to redeveloping the Bathurst Library, council makes a concerted effort to ensure all local groups receive their slice of the funding pie.
Then there are the museums – Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Chifley Home [pictured] and National Motor Racing Museum – along with Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre and the railway museum that is currently under construction.
These assets add greatly to the culture of our city but they tend to cost money rather than bring in revenue.
By contrast, council has found that money spent on sporting facilities is more likely to be repaid through increased usage and attracting representative carnivals that bring new visitors to town.
It’s not a matter of either-or, it’s a matter of finding funding for everyone.
And that’s one area where council consistently does a good job.