The biggest revamp in the history of the Gardens Oval and precinct is part of a plan now out for public comment.
The Gardens Reserve draft masterplan proposes a new Community Sporting Centre, improved sport and recreation spaces, walking paths and other developments.
The document was discussed at the August Moyne Shire council meeting and the public has until October 12 to have its say. The plan includes improvements to ageing infrastructure at the oval and football netball club facilities, caravan park, the botanic gardens and connections to the beach and town centre.
Moyne Shire manager recreation and community development Jacquie Anderton said council balanced the needs of the football club and holiday park businesses, while also considering residential and community use when developing the plan.
Mrs Anderton said it was important that the park maintained its appeal and ageing infrastructure was replaced. “Tourists like the country small town opportunities that the town offers, but they still want that balanced with facilities that are brought up to date and that are comfortable to stay in,” she said.
A new sporting pavilion and community hub will replace the existing clubrooms and outbuildings. It includes change rooms, a canteen/kitchen, a function room and storage. There are plans for a second cabin village with views across the river, a camp kitchen and lounge and a new village green.
“We really want to make the site competitive with other sites in Port Fairy so we want to be able to offer visitors a prime place to stay,” she said. “It’s recognising in today’s world when tourists are looking for a visiting space, they're looking for something that’s comfortable, that really connects them with the local environment and is a really good space to come and stay.”
Councillor Jim Doukas said it was a comprehensive plan and the new cabins would be a great spot to sit on the deck and watch the sunset.
Mrs Anderton said the consultants highlighted the ease and “walkability of Port Fairy” which is why walking routes and how they connected to the beach and town centre were important considerations.
She said the football netball club was a key contributor in the planned upgrades, which will also see new change room amenities to be used by both the club and campers.
The two netball/ tennis courts will be retained and a third multi-purpose netball court added, which will include line markings for other sports and games. Other proposed changes include upgraded lighting around the oval and netball courts.
A new family recreation precinct, with a new playground, shelter, seating and barbecue and picnic facilities, has also been included.
Mrs Anderton said the plan considered the growth of the club and the perceived need for extra playing surfaces.
Other considerations are the oval’s management, shared use between community events and sporting competition and safe playing surfaces.
“The (Hampden) league bring in demands for expectations of facilities for future competition requirements, particularly in the future with females participating in football,” Mrs Anderton said.
“The league certainly has identified that their facilities are not going to meet future needs. Even as it is with the change rooms for the netballers, it suffices but it’s ready for consideration to bring it up today. Especially if we’re looking at the future of female football teams.”
Port Fairy premiership netballer Nicole Dwyer said the revamp was much needed and that the park facilities had not changed in 10 years.
She said currently netballers had to use three separate facilities to shower, change and go to the toilet and co-locating them in a modern building wasn't too much to ask.
“People now expect if you go to a camp ground you could go to the toilet and have a shower in the same building,” she said. “With the ones closest to the netball court they’re heavily used but they’re not joined together.
She also welcomed the extra netball court. “With 10 teams we struggle to find a time for enough court space to train on two courts. With growing numbers we literally can’t. There’s a team that has to go and train at another venue at the moment. It splits the club and it splits families.
“It’s definitely a study that should have been done many years ago but we appreciate that they’re finally doing something about it now.”
Port Fairy Football Netball Club committee member Ashley King said the existing facilities were outdated and costly to maintain.
He said once the works were completed the Gardens Reserve would be “a significant community asset.”
“It’s important to take a longer term view,” Mr King said. “The plan is a timely opportunity to develop modern facilities to meet today’s standards for female and male participation in their chosen sport.”
To view the plan go to moyne.vic.gov.au. Submissions can be sent to email@example.com or by mail to PO BOX 51, Princes Street, Port Fairy, 3284.