Canberra Raiders boost support for Walker Park upgrades

Five board members from the club visited the facility on Monday, February 5 for a discussion with Yass Valley Council about the upgrades.

The club also provided a letter of support for the council’s application.

Raiders CEO Don Furner said the club wanted to help because Yass was “a very good rugby league town”.

“We got to make sure that the facilities here are up to standards with other towns and cities because then it encourages kids to play sport and stay here and not move to Canberra or Sydney.

“We’d like them to get the same opportunities as kids in the big cities,” he said.

Mr Furner said the Yass Magpies’ growth and profile in the Canberra Region Rugby League showed that there was a demand for upgrades.

“As well as the men’s game, the women’s leagues are growing, so you need to make sure the facilities grow with it.

“We’ve had some support from Yass for facility upgrades for ourselves, so we’d like to reciprocate the favour,” he said.

As well as the men’s game, the women’s leagues are growing, so you need to make sure the facilities grow with it.

Don Furner, Canberra Raiders CEO

The application for the state funding forms part of the council’s draft 2017–22 Walker Park Strategic Plan, which recently went on public exhibition and aims to ensure the facility meets the requirements of a regional sporting hub.

The plan lists 18 items for upgrade and development.

Among them are the grandstand seating at Jim Beck Oval, relocation of the commentators box from the centre of Jim Beck Oval to the side, redeveloped car park and road access and the development of a water-supply system from Yass River for irrigation of playing fields. 

Robert Fish, the council’s director of engineering, said the application was for $1.1 million under the state funding “to deliver a number of priority works identified”.

“If successful, a contribution of $150,000 by council will be required,” Mr Fish said in his November 2017 report.

The council’s contribution would be made up of its current $50,000 allocation for lighting improvements in the 2017–18 financial year and $100,000 for amenity improvements during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 financial years.

Mr Fish, who attended the meeting today, said seating, the commentary box, lighting and parking were the top priorities.

“We’re looking to relocate the commentary box to improve access safety – not having it in the centre also provides greater flexibility for more sports,” he said.

“Ideally we’d like to relocate the lights to the corner. We do need to do some design work and get some advice in that regard.

“If that’s not feasible, then we’d look at refurbishing the current lighting and upgraded it to LED lights.”

The council will submit its expression-of-interest application to the NSW Government within the next few weeks.

This article first appeared at Yass Tribune.