There has been a great deal of controversy over the creation of the Frank Drago Master Plan. Now that the consultant’s recommended plan has been completed, and community consultation has closed, I feel I can provide my thoughts. And a novel idea…
Having one reserve as the home to four historic clubs (soccer, tennis, bowling & croquet), with each experiencing different positions on the growth and consolidation phases that all clubs go through, was bound to create some tension. In addition it does seem that the majority of residents in the area are opposed to the proposed development. That said, I am yet to be officially briefed on the results of the community consultation so my views may change, however I do feel I am sufficiently connected to the community and clubs to know the general feeling.
It seems to me that no one, or group, is particularly happy with what is being proposed. In addition I have my personal concerns about the cost of making the master plan a reality – I just can’t see how the city can fund circa $15 – $20 million. Part of the reason for the massive cost is site works. The reserve is uneven and I understand will require $5-10 million of site and infrastructure works just to enable the full reserve to be used as sporting grounds.
The Perth Bayswater Rugby Club (Perth’s oldest rugby club) is located on Pat O’Hara Reserve in Morley. They have mentioned to me in the past that they want a modest stadium (even temporary) so that they can host some big games, such as the finals matches. Why knock down the Bayswater City Soccer Club’s stadium and do multi-million dollar site works when the existing facilities and pitches would be ideal for the Perth Bayswater Rugby Club?
If the soccer club built their new stadium at Pat O’Hara Reserve then there would be much less site works required. There would also be less turmoil for the existing clubs and residents at, and around, Frank Drago. In addition, if the soccer club’s dreams are realised, it makes economic sense to have crowds of supporters close to our main business district so that they can support the City of Bayswater’s businesses. I doubt that having a mass of people attend the soccer at Frank Drago has much benefit for the local businesses; in Morley it most certainly would.
The idea of swapping the rugby and soccer clubs started out as a ‘thought bubble’, but the more I thought about it the more sense it made to me. As such I tentatively approached the president of the soccer club and met with him to assess his thoughts, and pleasingly he was receptive to exploring all ideas. Then I spoke with the president of the rugby club and he too was receptive to exploring all ideas. It is now time to pass this idea on to the City’s staff so that they can explore and assess the feasibility of this and what the benefits and negatives would be; this will either be through a conversation with the CEO or a motion at a Council meeting.
I have no doubt that there are negative implications which I haven’t thought of and the reality is that I place very little chance on this concept coming to fruition. But before the City even considers committing to a multi-million dollar project I would like to see all avenues explored; especially if it may save circa $5+ million.
As always, I welcome hearing your thoughts so please feel welcome to comment below. Power to the people.
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)