Junior Ghosts consider North St a future haunt
ONE town's trash heap is another man's treasure.
When most people look at the former dump site on North St, near Westlawn Public School, they see an empty, uneven field.
But for past and present Grafton Ghosts Junior Rugby League Club presidents, they see a future home.
Current president Brett Nay shared some of the club's vision for the site earlier this week, which was first mooted when Terry Day was president in 2004-05.
"It's one of my disappointments in that I didn't get it off the ground," Day said.
"I would be stoked to see it come off now. Especially after putting money aside for so long."
"If someone doesn't start doing something it'll never happen," Nay said.
"We had to identify we needed our own area to develop. We have 11 junior teams - about 180 kids - and three senior teams all playing out of Frank McGuren Field.
"It's just too much for one ground to sustain.
"In February the ground looks great - it's had the five month spell and had the chance to redevelop itself. All of a sudden it gets trashed with 15 teams training and using the site.
"It is what it's there for but it's 30 years old."
The club has applied to the State Government for funds under the community building partnership program which closed yesterday.
The funds would cover the first stage of work at the site, which includes spreading the soil for the half the field, levelling the area, the erection of fencing across the North St end, and to get power to the site.
A move to North St has endless potential for both junior and senior clubs.
The senior teams could see a big reduction in the number of injuries they sustain, and a much higher quality ground for the majority of the season.
As it is now with up to 15 teams training at the site, Frank McGuren Field is worn out by the first few months, but that could be alleviated with a lot less traffic at the site.
It would also allow the junior club to host mini and mod carnivals.
Under Group 1 rules, clubs must have at least three fields to be allowed to host the carnivals, which bring an estimated $4000 to $6000 profit for the hosts.
"We can't do it at Frank McGuren," Nay said.
"If we get this North St site developed we can set it up. The bottom line is those carnivals are worth a lot of money to clubs and it's something we miss out on completely.
"We need to crawl before we walk though and our main task is to develop the North St site."
As well as the benefit for the club, the new development could also double as an extra sports field for the nearby Westlawn Public School.
Nay emphasised it was not a new plan, nor would it happen overnight, with the long term future of the junior club at the centre of plans.
"Realistically it is a 15-year plan," Nay said.
"We've got the soil ready to go but there's hollows the size of houses out there and little sinkages everywhere.
"We've had a few teams go out and train there but you can't go all out or people will get injured. It has to be during the day as well.
"I'd say we could get the amenities going in the next four years.
"You really only need a few toilets, you need power to the site and a set of goalposts and by then we should be okay for the first few stages."
Once they get at least one field sorted, that opens the door to hosting carnivals between Frank McGuren Field, North St and potentially Westlawn Public School grounds.
"We can then run one of those carnivals and pour the money straight back into developing North St," Nay said.
"The whole committee is 100% behind it and I know the senior club is supportive as well."