Club costs fear

President of the Forrest Park Croquet Club John Gartner says having to shoulder all maintenance and upgrade costs could end the club.

THE Forrest Park Croquet Club says its future is in jeopardy under a proposed lease policy being considered by Vincent council.

The draft policy replaces individual agreements and will see small sporting clubs pay for minor maintenance and capital upgrades. 

The council would pay for main structure maintenance and “capital renewal”. It says the aim of the plan isn’t to stick clubs with bigger bills but a lack of definition has led to concern over who pays for what.

Croquet club president John Gartner says “if this goes through, the likelihood is we will fold. Not tomorrow, but somewhere down the track”. 

Mr Gartner says different clubs are in different positions; some have new facilities needing little maintenance, and some clubs only pay for their building and not the grass they play on.

“Forrest Park Croquet Club invests about $25,000 per annum in maintaining the grounds, which not only enhances the local amenity of the area, but helps ensure the facility is available to host community group activities, parties and celebrations for local residents,” Mr Gartner says.

“We, like many clubs, make significant contributions to the city. We maintain our own lawns, paid for by membership fees. Therefore we directly contribute through our passion for croquet by providing community connections and contributing to a thriving community for the benefit of the city ratepayers.” 

The croquet club building is 1950s era and is in need of a few upgrades, including new toilets to meet accessibility standards. The club had hoped for the council to pick up the tab, but Mr Gartner says by his reading, it’s now up to the club.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole says given Mr Gartner’s concerns, it looked like the policy needed more clarity.

“The city is responsible for structural changes, so if there’s an upgrade to a toilet block to make it universally accessible, that would be at the cost to the city.”

The policy also sees an end to peppercorn leases, and clubs will instead pay between 5 to 10 per cent of the market rental rate. 

The FPCC says it can absorb the rent increase from $1,121 to an estimated $5,600; it’s the maintenance costs that are the bigger concern.

The policy is out for comment until May 29 at imagine.vincent.


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