Sports centre may go

By ADRIAN MILLER

LOWER Clarence residents could soon find themselves without a sports centre with the Wherrett Park Squash and Sports Centre up for sale.

Owners and proprietors Ross and Sandra McPherson have received an offer for the centre, but are considering their options because the building would not be retained in its current format.

Mr McPherson, who has owned the sports facility since it was built in 1983, said it would be a great shame for people in the Lower Clarence to lose the centre.

"We don't want to sell, but we've been in business for 23 years and we're getting old, so we've got to start looking to retire," he said.

"We don't want it knocked down, but at the same time we've got to be a bit reasonable with ourselves, we can't stay in there for the next 20 years."

Mr McPherson said he had spoken to the Clarence Valley Council about buying the building and keeping it as is.

Councillor Chris Gulaptis said the council had no plans to the centre, but the issue would be raised.

"What we need from the public is some response as to how they value that facility," he said.

"If there is a high level of community support and they believe that's where council should be focusing some attention, then yes we do need to have a report so we can consider it."

Cr Gulaptis said one option for council would be to look at using the centre for more than sport.

"It may present an opportunity for council to consider it as a multi-function purpose centre in conjunction with the performing arts for example," he said.

However Cr Gulaptis stressed the council would need to be convinced of the centre's need within the community before any decision would be made.

Maclean resident Connie Bricknell said it was essential the facility was kept.

"It's the only indoor centre n the Lower River and it caters for over 600 people per week," she said.

Mrs Bricknell said the benefit of the centre was more than just sport.

"They've (Ross and Sandra McPherson) been generous owners, but also very caring to young people," she said.

"Kids come in for phone calls to ring home, or for band-aids and they never turn them away. They really look after the kids.

"It would be a tremendous loss I'm sure."



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