Praise for sports centre

HEAVY USE: THE first night’s junior basketball competition at the Byron Regional Sports Centre.
HEAVY USE: THE first night’s junior basketball competition at the Byron Regional Sports Centre. Contributed

"A WIN-WIN partnership" is how Mayor Jan Barham has described a move by the Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC) to take up residence at Byron Shire Council's new sport and cultural complex at Ewingsdale.

A draft lease agreement would go to the new council in October and the PCYC could be in the building soon after, Cr Barham said.

The news coincides with a response from Paul Irwin, convenor of the Byron Community Sports Association, to the "doom and gloom talk" about the $17 million facility.

Mr Irwin said he was tired of hearing the centre called a "white elephant", including by some council election candidates, and that it was time to focus on its many positives.

"The indoor facility has 46 regular users, including the basketball association, which recently signed up 400 people who want to play," Mr Irwin said.

"There was a phenomenal response from mums and dads across the shire to the opportunity for their youngsters to play basketball."

Groups as diverse as salsa, ballet, indoor soccer, roller derby and aikido martial arts were regular users of the centre, as well as a range of cultural clubs, he said.

"It's humming and is fast becoming booked out," he said.

"It's a great asset to the community. There are activities here for a complete cross-section of kids."

The council's head of society and culture, Greg Ironfield said the indoor courts were at about 50% capacity from Monday to Friday after 4pm and 20% during the day and weekends.

The fields were being used by Ultimate Frisbee, Byron Bay Runners, Suffolk Park Soccer, Brunswick Valley Bulldogs (AFL), and the Cocoa Cartel social soccer competition, he said.

Mr Irwin acknowledged there had been some problems - and some things still needed fixing.

"About half a million dollars will be needed to fix the soil profile of the ground," he said.

Incorrect soil used had created a crust, which meant water was not able to drain away, he said.

"That's going to take some years, but it's something that is fixable," he said.

The PCYC arrangement would save the council about $200,000 in management fees, Mr Irwin said, and they would add value to the centre by introducing programs for youth and adults.

There had also been interest shown by five groups within the shire to contribute towards building several grandstands for the sports fields, he said.

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