South Gippsland Shire’s administration panel allocated $80,000 towards the proposed Foster Showgrounds oval irrigation project at the ordinary monthly council meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday February 26, 2020.
The funding commitment will bolster the shire’s current application for $200,000 already lodged with the State Government’s new $22 million Sport and Recreation Victoria Local Sports Infrastructure Fund (LSIF) Community Facilities stream.
The Foster Showgrounds Committee of Management has also put up $20,000 towards the $300,000 project that with the shire’s $80,000 makes up the local $100,000 needed to be eligible for a grant under the LSIF’s $2 for $1 funding ratio.
The shire’s contribution would come from the 2020/21 Community Infrastructure Projects budget.
Should the shire successfully secure the $200,000 grant the Showgrounds project would see a sub-surface automatic irrigation system installed as well as appropriate drainage, levelling and resurfacing of the oval.
The irrigation project complements major works already done in partnership with South Gippsland Water to deliver piped recycled water to the Showgrounds for irrigation as one of the shire’s $400,000 Community Capital Works Allocation projects, which was funded in 2016 and completed in May 2019.
A report in the council meeting’s agenda noted some of the benefits the oval project would bring to the community, including an unlimited supply of affordable recycled water for use on the Foster oval and recreation reserve, which is a council-owned asset.
Savings of $5,000 to $10,000 would be made each year because of lower water bills while still maintaining the ground for community use such as pre-season and season football, the Promontory markets with the Rotary Club train, and the annual Foster and District Agricultural Show with its equestrian and other oval-based events.
The report stated that “Foster is the only council-owned ground that has to support this range of events in the dry summer months from December to April.
“The quality of the surface is important for the safety of the equestrian riders and horses, as well as the footballers in pre-season training, practice matches, and the early rounds of the season,” it said.
“Resurfacing works will improve the safety and longevity of the playing surface at the Foster Showgrounds.”
Both the Foster Showgrounds committee and the oval’s major user the Foster Football Netball Club were consulted throughout all the stages of the project, along with Sport and Recreation Victoria.
Foster Showgrounds committee president Debbie Allott said, “we’re very hopeful that the Sport and Recreation Victoria grant application will be approved.
“We’re all waiting with bated breath, as the oval irrigation system will be such an awesome thing to achieve and it will finish off the recycled water project, too,” she said.
“Committee and club members have been manually watering the oval for years, which is really hard regular work to keep it in good condition.
“We need the automatic irrigation system because volunteers aren’t allowed to handle the recycled water, which is now waiting for us to use at the Showgrounds,” Debbie said.
“The shire has been great, meeting and talking with us and applying for funding,” she said.
“Thanks must go to Showgrounds committee member Ian Lyon for working so hard for such a long time to get this project happening, and, if we get the grant the oval will hopefully be ready to play on by the 2021 season”, with the irrigation works installed after this playing season.