By Jessica Howard
The construction of one of the biggest projects in Moorabool Shire is one step closer to commencing following an official turning of the sod last week.
User group members gathered at the Bacchus Marsh Racecourse Recreation Reserve on Thursday (April 13) to celebrate the beginning of Stage one of the project.
The estimated $20 million project will be developed over four stages, with the first stage costing $4.8 million.
The project has been funded by Moorabool Shire Council ($4.6m), with a generous $5,000 donation from the Bacchus Marsh BMX Club and $200,000 in funding from the Labor Government’s Community Sports Infrastructure Fund.
Moorabool Shire Mayor, Paul Tatchell said it was a dramatic effort to put together a $20 million facility.
“It’s the first time we’ve built a facility since Dawn Fraser won gold medals in 1956,” he said.
“Or at least the first time we’ve built a solid facility in the last 50-years. This is the first stage of works that will perform part of the fabric and the future of Bacchus Marsh.
“We are all aware of the enormous developments that are going on in this town and we are all aware of the lack of backyard space that comes with the new way of living. It is therefore very important that we continue to push and probe and try to ensure that we provide those facilities to ensure that we stay a vibrant community”.
The first stage of the project will include the construction of two soccer pitches and a multipurpose oval, sports field lighting, cricket net practices, a multipurpose sports pavilion and a BMX track.
Bacchus Marsh BMX Club President, Les Stewart said it had been an eight-year wait for the club.
“We have around 100 members, all who are made to travel to Ballarat, Sunbury and Wyndham during the week for training,” he said.
“We used to have a BMX facility back in the 80s at Mason’s Lane but it was bulldozed and never replaced. It makes it really difficult and it sometimes means you have people giving up the sport because they can’t do it locally.
“This new facility will allow us to train locally and will be capable of hosting competitions all the way up to a national level. This has been eight years in the making so it is very exciting for me and members of the club”.
Minister for Sport, John Eren said he was delighted to see how Bacchus Marsh will make use of such a space.
“Normally racecourses are not surrounded by other sporting facilities, however this hub will now include two soccer pitches, a cricket pitch and of course the BMX track”.
Mr Eren told The Moorabool News that the Labor Government’s Community Sports Infrastructure Fund provides a maximum of 20 per cent towards the total cost of new facilities and upgrades.
Moorabool Shire Council has received just over four per cent in state government funding towards the new hub.
Mr Tatchell said while the disparity of funding across the state was disappointing, the four percent was still greatly appreciated.
“Realistically, we are in a shire that runs at about ten per cent of revenue off our bookended shires in Ballarat and Melton, so from our perspective we have a lot of restriction on how we can raise money and we fought really hard to get this four per cent, which is why this project has been delayed.
“We are the fastest growing shire in the peri-urban and it is arguable that Bacchus Marsh is the fastest growing town with the least amount of funding. That’s the problem shire’s like us face – we aren’t small by any means, but we are small in terms of revenue.
“It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, you will always be appreciative of someone who hands you money”.
Mr Eren said funding for future stages of the project would depend on timing.
“It will depend on when those future stages occur, so we will wait for the applications we will be seeking from council and we will make assessments from those accordingly”.