Rudd coughs up more cash $2m for new sports centre

AFTER years of neglect the Federal Government is finally turning its attention to the Clarence Valley.

In its latest act of goodwill it handed over $2 million towards a new indoor sports centre at Maclean.

The grant adds to a tally of more than $30 million handed out to the Valley by the Rudd government since it came to power more than 18 months ago.

Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson, said the capital injection from the Federal Government was essential in helping the district beat the current recession.

“Our district is still travelling well and a lot of this has to do with the millions the Prime Minister has sent this way,” he said.

The funding has come by the way of $18 million for the Grafton Base Hospital upgrade, $7 million in roads to recovery funding, $1.2 million for the upgrade to Skinner Street South Grafton, $1.4 million for 20 community infrastructure projects, $2 million for the Yamba indoor sports centre and the latest grant of $2 million for a Maclean indoor sports centre.

Mayor Williamson said the Federal Government was recognising the fact that the Clarence Valley was a growth area and that it was being governed by a responsible and professional council.

“Winning two Federal Government awards last year has certainly helped put this area on the radar for more support,” he said.

The Attorney General, Robert McClelland, travelled to Maclean yesterday to announce the $2 million grant towards the new indoor sports centre at Wherrett Park in Maclean.

“This funding is part of our $800 million Community Infrastructure Program - the largest one-off investment in local infrastructure in Australia's history,” Mr McClelland said.

“We are investing in community and sporting facilities like this to support jobs and stimulate local economies during the global economic recession.

“This project, being managed by the Clarence Valley Council, will deliver a much-needed indoor sport complex for Maclean residents and the mid-North Coast.”

The proposed new centre is expected to cost $2.2 million leaving Clarence Valley Council with just $200,000 to find.

“We don't have that in our present budget, but I can assure you we will find it and this project will get underway within the next six months,” Cr Williamson said.

“Our aim is to have it finished by the middle of next year.”

The 14-hectare park, where the centre will be built, currently caters for a number of outdoor sports including cricket, soccer and hockey.

The new centre will include a sprung timber floor for a range of indoor sports, a basketball/netball court, three squash courts, upper level multi-purpose space for sporting and community groups and amenities, kiosk and car parking.

A development application for the new centre has already passed through council, so the next stage will be to prepare detailed plans.

Once these are approved tenders will be called and then work can start. The Federal Government has handed over the grant on the proviso that work on the project begin within six month.

Mayor Williamson says he sees no problems in council pushing it through to meet that deadline.

The Maclean district has been without an indoor stadium for some years since it the Wherrett Park Squash and Fitness Centre was sold to Mareeba Nursing Home to enable them to extend their building.

Council bought steel and other materials from the old structure during its demolition. This material will be used where possible in building the new centre.

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