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A preliminary draft sketch plan of what the final outcome at Townsend Park could look like. Image: courtesy CVC

Lions facilitate park improvements at Townsend

Thanks to Maclean Lions Club’s proactivity, residents of Townsend and nearby Gulmarrad will soon have somewhere for their children, young and older, to play.

After writing applications to various grants to fund their initiative, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announced on Thursday May 14, 2020 “that the Lions Club of Maclean had successfully applied for $140,000 from the NSW Government SCCF [Stronger Country Communities Fund] Round 3, to construct a competition-sized multi-purpose court complete with fencing and LED lighting”, the report to the June 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting stated.

Back in November 2017, CVC provided a letter to the Lions club “in support of [an application to] the Liquor &Gaming NSW Infrastructure Grant” scheme.

So, CVC staff were taken by surprise when they learnt that the Lions club had won a SCCF grant.

“Council officers were not aware of this application, or announcement,” the report to council stated.

Council officers subsequently met with Lions club representatives “to discuss concerns [about] the Club making an application for funding without prior knowledge or written support of Council [and to take] the opportunity to alter the grant funding to align with Council’s Open Spaces Strategic Plan and Council’s current ‘Fit for the Future’ asset rationalisation approach,” the report to council stated.

The outcome of that discussion produced “preliminary draft sketch plans” that compared the construction of a competition size multipurpose court with a “holistic plan consisting of a half size multipurpose court and supporting park facilities”.

“It was agreed at the meeting, to consider reducing the size of the court to half size with a hitting wall,” the report to council stated, and “to allocate part funding to provide supporting facilities such as internal footpath and seating.”

In other words, it was “an opportunity for Council and the Lions Club of Maclean to collaborate to achieve an improved outcome for the community”.

Maclean Lions Club’s president, Robin Parker, said the club was motivated to improve the park because the “the old playground is old and needs fixing; there’s nothing there for the kids; we hope to get another grant to update the playground”.

Clarence Valley Council is matching Lions’ $140,000, dollar for dollar, in its 2020/21 budget, which was adopted at the June 23 CVC meeting.

“The Playground Asset Management Plan identifies Wherrett Park ($210,000) and Tucabia Tennis Courts Playground ($70,000) for the 2021 projects,” the report to council stated.

“To achieve economy of scale and address a known community need, [however], it is proposed that $140,000 of the 2020/21 Playground Equipment renewal [quota] be allocated to Townsend Park, $70,000 allocated to Tucabia Tennis Courts Playground and the balance ($70,000) not be allocated … in the 2020/21 financial year.

Council staff and the Maclean Lions Club “plan to engage with the community through future onsite and online intercept surveys” and Chris Gulaptis has given “in principle support” of the changes suggested by CVC staff.

Ms Parker said she encouraged people to join the club to assist with its work in the community.

“It’s a good feeling to give something back to the community,” she said, “helping kids and whomever.

“It’s a great place to meet a lot like-minded people and, being an international [movement], the whole world opens up.”

Councillors also included an all-abilities carousel, similar to the one at Jacaranda Park, Grafton, in their decision.