Port Augusta Council backs Central Oval turf upgrade

UPGRADE: Port Augusta City Council has agreed to support the Central Oval Turf Upgrade project in its 2019/20 Budget.
UPGRADE: Port Augusta City Council has agreed to support the Central Oval Turf Upgrade project in its 2019/20 Budget.

The Central Oval playing surface is both an eyesore and a safety hazard, but that could soon be resolved, with the Port Augusta City Council agreeing to support the turf upgrade project at the recent Council meeting.

Councillors voted in favour of committing dollar for dollar capital funding of up to $500,000 in the 2019/20 Budget on the condition that grant funding is received for at least 50 per cent of the project.

Deputy Mayor Phillip Brown, who put forward the motion, said he is a big believer in the project.

"I stand here with my hand on my heart and say I really do believe we are on the right track to promote the city," Cr Brown said at the meeting.

"We need to keep attracting people to the city and the oval is not just about sport. It’s been used for marquee events.

"Without the re-turf, I don't think it can progress to the next level. I believe it's something the city needs."

Without the re-turf, I don't think it can progress to the next level. I believe it's something the city needs.

Deputy Mayor Phillip Brown

Crs Matt Leonard, Ann Johnston, Sunny Singh and Louise Foote all joined Cr Brown in voting to push forward with the turf upgrade.

However, not all members of Council supported the motion, with Crs Linley Shine and Maralyn Marsh voting against the funding commitment.

"Unfortunately, I feel this project and decision is being rushed through and outside any holistic budget consideration," Cr Shine said.

"I look around and I see evidence everywhere of substantial maintenance needs, projects started and not finished, history falling down and people demanding our attention.

"There are so many community priorities that it's just not funny and I prefer that we take a much more strategic approach to our decisions."

TURF: Several areas of the playing surface are devoid of grass cover.

TURF: Several areas of the playing surface are devoid of grass cover.

Mayor Brett Benbow spoke in support of completing the turf upgrade, listing a host of events held at the Central Oval Complex that have brought in tourists to Port Augusta.

"I do understand the previous Council did a fantastic job to reduce the deficit, with no loans for four years, but we've got a project that's not finished, so we don't know the potential of what we have," Mayor Benbow told his Councillors.

"Until we finish it, we won't know."

Earlier in the meeting, Councillors listened to a presentation from Living Turf Agronomist Daryl Sellar.

Council had engaged Living Turf to undertake scoping and design of the Central Oval playing surface upgrade.

Mr Sellar said the oval is shaped "almost like a bowl", resulting in certain areas holding excess water.

Living Turf is proposing to "dome" the surface to ensure it receives the right balance of water and air.

"We believe the benefits of our proposal are consistency of performance and consistency throughout the year," Mr Sellar said.

"It's going to cope with high rainfall when it happens, but it's also going to allow the establishment of a healthy and more robust turf."

The process of doming the turf would include stripping the existing surface, regrading the existing soil, importing suitable root zone material and replacing the irrigation system.

Living Turf was involved in the recent upgrade of Memorial Oval in Port Pirie.

The total cost of the Central Oval turf upgrade is estimated to be $973,000.

GREENER PASTURES: Living Turf has been engaged by Council to undertake the scoping and design of the turf upgrade.

GREENER PASTURES: Living Turf has been engaged by Council to undertake the scoping and design of the turf upgrade.