Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Edmonton Leisure Centre.

This blog has taken the longest to finish of all the blogs I have done thus far. The reasons for that will be explained as I go but rest assured, it's worth the wait. Especially if you live in the Bentley Park/ Edmonton area.

The Edmonton Leisure Centre is finally beginning! After months (if not years) of consultation, argument, funding arrangements and weather setbacks, the centre itself will begin it's building process any day now. This facility will be a fantastic one for all those living nearby as it will enable residents to attend a 'one stop shop' for most indoor sports, including swimming. Construction is due to be completed early in 2012 and if all goes according to plan it will open almost simultaneously with the GP Super Clinic nearby. As we all know, plans can go awry. The hope is that this one will stay on track and we will be swimming, playing, throwing, catching etc....before we know it.

The next stage of the development is the outdoor area. This part was last consulted on in 2007 and the needs for the area then were vastly different from what is now required. In the initial plans it was suggested that the facility hold an adult soccer field, two junior soccer fields, four hockey fields and an AFL field. As time has shown, this is no longer the optimum use for the area.

The space is large, the intent is there, my job this past week was to find out what was REALLY required for the residents of the south. Being a person who knows very little about sport, except that it costs money to participate, I needed to do huge amounts of research before I could make any suggestions. This entailed calling as many sporting organisations as possible with the intention of ascertaining the needs, wants and space requirements of those sports.

The end result goes something like this.

Hockey will need two of the proposed four fields. They are in the process of expanding the hockey space next to Tobruk Pool and this new area will meet almost all requirements for the sport in the short and medium term. Training of juniors would be the main use of any fields in the Leisure Centre area as this would negate the need for those children to travel so far after school on a regular basis.

AFL need none. Cazaly's own Fretwell Park and they are currently focussed on expanding that facility to make it more viable for players, staff and the community. This new facility will see an expansion of the restaurant, gaming rooms to almost twice it's current size and a facelift of the grounds is slatted as part of that process.

Rugby League is trying to get agreement from the State Government to give them/ loan them some land adjacent to Petersen Park which will be ample space for them to train and play. There is a petition currently circulating for this specific reason. There is no word yet regarding the site but the word is that the State will allow the sporting club to use the space and it's hoped that the decision will be made soon.

Cricket do not need more pitches. They currently occupy the park behind Fuller Sports and are negotiating with the State Government for a Grant which will let them build a clubhouse on the site, with amenities. The clubhouse will have an extra room attached that will house the RSL and they will share amenities, making this site very useful and an asset to the community. Once the Leisure Centre is build, the pools will be removed and the site will be large enough for any expansions of car park etc that may be required.

Soccer no longer requires the two junior fields but would be very pleased with one large adult sized field for playing and training on. This sport is growing at a fast pace and needs to be supported in terms of facilities in the short, medium and long term. Current facilities at Petersen Park need to be upgraded and the parking and amenities need to be expanded urgently. The State Government is looking into the issue and will shortly make a decision as to the scope of the refurbishments and upgrades.

Softball could not be contacted. I tried both numbers listed and attempted an e-mail but could get no response. In fact, one of the numbers was disconnected. That makes it difficult to make any judgements on their sporting requirements but the next group I contacted had plenty to say and the results may be good for softball too.

Baseball. Now, I contacted Cairns Baseball via mobile and the person who answered the phone was very enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that they put me on to the Regional Development Officer and he and I had a lengthy chat about the future of Dodgers Baseball and the requirements for a diamond. I have the exact specifications for fields but won't bore you with details. That information will be up to Ian Lowthe to ascertain and configure into the design. The basic thrust of the story is that a baseball diamond can be built in adult size with an Under 12 and an Under 14 diamond inside it. This would allow juniors to play and train during some afternoons and the adults to play and train at other times, making the one sporting field, very, very useful.

The added bonus is that Softball can be played on the same diamond. The junior size is the same size as a regulation adult Softball diamond and this means that essentially two sports can use it and several age groups can benefit. Sounds ideal to me.

I have probably left out some sports that will be deemed hugely important and receive responses asking why I did not include them in my research. As I mentioned before, sport is not really my thing.

According to the sports I have included, what is required for the site is a baseball diamond, two hockey fields, one large soccer field and the rest of the land could probably be used as extra parking, extra amenities (we all know that there are never enough toilets) and plenty of hills and stands to watch from.

The other thing worth noting is that three sports in our region are waiting on State Government approval before they can guarantee use of space for their needs. I urge all those involved in these sports to write to your MP and request this process be accelerated.

Take note CRC. Make the phone calls. You might actually get useful answers. I did.

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