WARRNAMBOOL City Council (WCC) has turned white knight to save a long-awaited redevelopment of Reid Oval.
The council yesterday confirmed it would guarantee stage one of the redevelopment goes ahead as planned.
The Standard last week revealed the works, which include an electronic scoreboard and multi-purpose pavilion, faced a $60,000 shortfall. Originally estimated at $565,536, it is understood they will top $600,000 — a blow out which was holding up the project.
But a Reid Oval project control group meeting on Wednesday resolved council would alleviate the shortfall.
The money will come out of the council’s capital works budget should it fail to secure an external funding source.
WCC recreation, arts and culture manager Russell Lineham said the project was too important to change just to meet the allocated budget.
“Given the work done by the project control group in developing the project and the importance to the community of having a premier sports ground that seeks to meet AFL and first-class cricket requirements, the council will ensure the project proceeds,” he said.
“Council will still seek additional external funding for the project.
“But if this does not eventuate we will reallocate capital works funding to ensure the project is completed as planned.
“To put it simply: council is guaranteeing the project will go ahead. Ultimately we did not want to see the scope of the project altered.”
Lineham praised the work of the Reid Oval project control group, which “has remained committed to ensuring we make the Reid Oval upgrade a success”.
Reid Oval project control group manager Gerard Duynhoven said he welcomed the council’s commitment.
Duynhoven, the Warrn-ambool Football Netball Club representative, said the Blues were pleased funding was secure.
“There’s been a lot of work put into it so it’s been good,” he said. “I didn’t think we had it over the line. I didn’t think we’d go there and get the answer we got.”
Duynhoven was unsure when on-the-ground work would start, with a project control group meeting scheduled for early January.
“That’s to try and get it going as soon as possible,” he said.
East Warrnambool Football Netball Club spokesman Robin Konigson said the decision gave tenants certainty the redevelopment would go ahead.
“Our club is both relieved and excited that the council has committed to provide further support to ensure the completion of this much-needed project,” he said.
Warrnambool and District Football Netball League president Ken McSween welcomed the project funding certainty.
The state government has committed $200,000 to the redevelopment while the council is pledging $100,000 plus a further $60,000 if required.