$6 million secures leisure centre future

Lismore City Council has purchased a $6 million block of land to ensure the development of the Goonellabah Recreation and Leisure Centre.

Council was in the process of resuming a small parcel of land from owners Consolidated Properties when the Coles supermarket developer offered to sell the entire three-hectare parcel for $6 million.

While Council currently has no firm plans for the rest of the land, which borders Oliver Avenue and Simeoni Drive, mayor Merv King said the price was too good to pass up.

Consolidated Properties had always said theyd give us the land we needed, but then they wanted to impose some conditions that Council wasnt willing to accept, so we started a resumption process, Mr King said. Then they came back and offered to sell us the land for $6 million. It was going to cost $2.5 million to resume what we needed with the associated works involved. We decided it made more sense to buy the lot, build the community centre and then in the future we can sell the rest of the land or develop other facilities for our ratepayers.

The bulk of the Goonellabah Recreation and Leisure Centre will be built on a similar sized Council-owned property adjacent to the recently purchased block.

The first stage of the development will include multi-purpose indoor sports courts for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and netball, a barbecue area, activity centre, administration offices, crche, gym, skate bowl and car parking.

Mr King said the second stage, while yet to be finalised, will include some sort of leisure water, however, he said that decision would be in the hands of the next council.

There are 11-12,000 people in Goonellabah and its very important they have a community and leisure centre it was decided some years ago that this would be built but the process has taken time for various reasons, Mr King said. Were sorry it didnt start earlier, but now its all systems go. In a suburb of Goonellabahs size you need facilities, particularly for young people, who often get into strife when they are bored and have nothing to do. This will give them somewhere to have fun, play sport, or simply meet with friends. Its a positive thing for the whole community.

Goonellabah councillor Frank Swientek says hes been pushing for a leisure facility in the area for more than 15 years, and while hes happy to see the project one step closer to fruition, hes not yet breaking out the champagne.

When Council signs off on the budgeting for the project Ill be ecstatic about it, Cr Swientek said. Im feeling more reassured now but I wont feel fully confident until I see construction started. There have been so many announcements about this centre back in 1995 the Council resolved to proceed with the aquatic and leisure centre and then the newly-elected Council put the brakes on. When I see it begin Ill believe it.

Despite going through a tender process more than 12 months ago, Council is obliged to re-tender and will begin the process as soon as possible. All applicants will be invited to re-submit.

It is hoped the first stage of the project will be completed within the next 12 months.

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