Funding in play

Funding in play

Mount Gambier City Council has decided to financially support a major Mount Gambier Tennis Club upgrade on the condition the sporting group receives state or federal government funding.


At council’s March monthly meeting tennis club representatives pitched a request to council for urgent financial support to upgrade its Heriot Street courts and facilities.


Past president and treasurer Jason Seidel and current president Jamie Clarke are representatives of the club’s Major Projects Sub-Committee which has been working towards improving the existing facilities to meet current standards and improve accessibility.


The committee requested a cash contribution of $50,000 towards its estimated $910,000 project, however Mr Seidel said the club would be grateful to accept anything council is willing to give.


The club has outlined proposed funding could include $500,000 Office of Racing, Sport and Recreation (ORSR) grant.


Following the deputation, council decided to support the club with a $20,000 pre-allocation commitment from the 2024-2025 Sport and Recreation Capital Works Program Grant funds.


“Over the past three to four years the club have been exploring ways to raise funds to contribute to upgrade,” Mr Seidel said.


Unused land was sold to provide seed funding and the club has used traditional means such as quiz nights, fundraisers and canteen sales.


“Forty percent of the funds raised has been through these traditional methods,” Mr Seidel said.


As past treasurer of the Mount Gambier and Districts Tennis Association, Mr Seidel said he has been involved in the strategic planning of tennis in the area.


“Our understanding is lack of funding from other bodies is holding back the strategic plan of upgrading courts at an association level,” he said.


“That’s why we have taken a step forward to see if we can get our courts upgraded.”


Mr Seidel said the reason for the request for commitment from council was to assist in meeting the grant application deadlines.


“The main reason why asking for assistance now is a timing issue. ORSR funding closes in August. We need to get our application in before that,” he said.


“Council’s Sport and Recreation Capital Works Program is decided in the September meeting. But we require confirmation of council’s support and funding prior to putting in our ORSR application.”


If the club was to wait until the council’s Sport and Recreation Capital Works Program application period Mr Seidel said this would set back the club’s project by a further 12 


months.


“We understand that any council contribution would be subject to the club receiving the major grant funding,” he said.


The club will be notified in January 2025 if its ORSR application has been successful.


“If all goes to plan the project could start in April 2025, at the end of the tennis season, and ready in October 2025, the start of our 122nd season,” Mr Seidel said.


The complex has been described as having a rich history and significant presence in Mount Gambier since being established in 1903.


Mr Seidel brought council’s attention to the last upgrades to take place the courts and current condition of surfaces.


“The courts had previously been upgraded by council to international playing standards, at the time, dating back to the 80s,” he said.


Eight courts are located at the bottom of complex and five courts at the top – four of these being concrete surface which Mr Seidel said was laid in the late 1980’s.


“Four of the five top courts are limestone, laid in late 60s. We have condemned them,” he said.


“We have known they have needed to be replaced the last 10 to 15 years. This has been on our radar they would need to be condemned.”


The facilities at the Mount Gambier Tennis Club are privately owned, and as such, they were not considered during the development of council’s Sport, Recreation and Open Space Strategy (SROSS).


“We want to be included in council’s programs and our complex seen as a crucial part of tennis and council’s open space, and sporting facilities in the area in general,” Mr Seidel said.


“It would be great to bring a complex worthy of state and national competition back to Mount Gambier.”


Meanwhile, council staff met with Mount Gambier and District Tennis Association and Tennis Australia representatives earlier this month.


City Infrastructure general manager Barbara Cernovskis said the meeting discussed Olympic Park, funding and council strategic plans.


“In summary they were trying to understand the future of what Olympic Park would be and if that would include tennis,” she said.


“What they were also looking for were levels of funding and we spoke about council’s strategic plan.


“It’s fair to say they came with a level of uncertainty to the meeting and wanting some clarity from us as council.


“Where that landed in terms of actions outside of and to follow on from that meeting is, in the event we do master planning for Olympic Park then the community will be the ones that advise us.”

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