Opinion: Odds against new field at Ocean Shores
SPORTS lovers in the north of the Byron Shire should not get too excited about Byron Council's decision to investigate five sites in the area to develop as sports fields.
It is a cruel game each new council in the past 20 years, or more, has played with residents in that part of the shire, and so far there has always been only one result - nothing.
The most notorious was related to Lot 107 Shara Boulevard at Ocean Shores; land that was specifically bought by the council in 1996 to develop as sports fields.
The issue was kicked backwards and, well, further backwards by the council which, despite the strident opposition of the Ocean Shores Community Association and the Brunswick Valley Sports Association, decided the site was too environmentally sensitive and isolated to be used for sports fields.
It was an outrageous decision and a smack in the face to all sporting groups in that part of the shire, which today still boasts only one playing field, the Tom Kendall Oval, at New Brighton.
Extending that oval is one of the five options being looked at by the council. Other sites to be investigated are at Billinudgel, land on the southern corner of Tweed Valley Way and Shara Boulevard, Water Lily Park and North Byron Parklands, home of Splendour in the Grass.
Naturally there will be several months of investigations before a report can go to council for a decision.
Going on the council's batting record, I reckon even Tom Waterhouse would not take a bet on any one of those sites getting across the line.
At the other end of the shire, Byron Bay has its $17million regional sports complex, but it has been seriously troubled since its opening early last year.
Apart from management problems, the timber floor of the indoor complex had to be re-laid and there have been ongoing problems with waterlogged fields which have kept major sports away.
But I hear that will change soon with the Byron Bay Aussie Rules club expected to make it their home ground next season, with the Gold Coast Suns having some kind of involvement.
* Gary Chigwidden is a former editor of the Byron Shire News.