Basketball money on way to park

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TAXPAYERS’ money could be heading to a sports stadium at Jubilee Park if a Frankston Council plan to divert funding from its original destination of the Frankston Basketball Stadium in Seaford.

Council CEO Dennis Hovenden says council has approached the state government to ask that the state’s $2.5 million part of the money originally earmarked for the Seaford stadium upgrades instead go to a multi-purpose sports stadium at Jubilee Park.

Mr Hovenden said council “fiercely wanted to protect the funding” for the Frankston region after negotiations with the Frankston Basketball & District Association (FDBA) over a new lease for a planned multi-million-dollar upgrade of the Bardia Avenue stadium in Seaford could not be resolved.

The CEO said “the Jubilee solution”, as it became known internally at council, emerged as an option after a majority of councillors voted in November last year to walk away from council contributing $4.5 million of ratepayers’ money to upgrade the Seaford stadium.

The council push to divert state money to Jubilee Park comes after federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther made a series of claims under parliamentary privilege late last month about alleged misconduct at the FDBA.

Mr Crewther had been brokering “last chance” talks between council and the FDBA shortly before his explosive parliamentary speech in an effort to save $5.2 million of federal money for the Seaford stadium upgrade.

Jubilee Park is home to the Frankston & District Netball Association (FDNA). The FDNA referred to a statement on its website when contacted for comment by The Times.

“Frankston & District Netball Association have been working closely with Jubilee Park Group and Frankston City Council on the Jubilee Park Master Plan since it was adopted by council in November 2013,” a statement attributed to the FDNA’s board of management read.

“Federal funding was allocated to the project, as well as a contribution from council, for detailed concept design to be developed as part of an election promise made to the Jubilee Park Group in July 2016.

“Jubilee Park has been recognised as one of council’s community infrastructure priorities in their four-year Council Plan 2017-2021.

“Plans for the multi-purpose facility have been in active detailing phase since July 2016. Along with the Jubilee Park Group, FDNA will continue to work closely with Frankston City Council to deliver an exceptional facility for its members and the city of Frankston.”

The netball association’s board of management consists of president Corinna Harvey, vice-president Shane Matthews, treasurer Bruce Wills and secretary Neil Cripps according to its website.

Melissa Kingston is listed as club representative and public relations are handled by Melissa Forsberg-Walker.

FDBA president Gary Emery told The Times the basketball association is talking to peak body Basketball Victoria about the terms of reference for an investigation into the allegations made in parliament by Mr Crewther.

The FDBA denies the allegations.

“We fully support and welcome an inquiry because we’ve got nothing to hide,” Mr Emery said.

It is understood that an investigation by a QC, independent of Basketball Victoria, would be welcomed by the association.

Mr Hovenden said council has written to Victorian Sports Minister John Eren asking the Labor state government to consider diverting $2.5 million towards basketball courts at Jubilee Park.

Frankston YCW Football Club also plays its peninsula league footy matches at Jubilee Park.

Kosta Pandos, spokesman for Mr Eren, confirmed council had written to the state government and said: “The Labor government is working to ensure that basketball continues to grow at the grassroots level – and Frankston is no exception.

“It’s disappointing that council have resolved to not support the upgrade of the Frankston Basketball Stadium in Seaford.

“We’re happy to consider any new proposal or project that would encourage more locals in Frankston to get on the court, close to home.”

Mr Crewther indicated in his parliamentary speech that council may re-enter lease negotiations with the FDBA if there were changes at board and management levels.

Frankston mayor Cr Colin Hampton rejected this possibility last week.

“No – absolutely not,” Cr Hampton said. “Council has found the association impossible to negotiate with. We have bent over backwards as a council to do a deal.”

An agreement could not be reached with the FDBA on the terms of rent reviews and the scope of future upgrades to the stadium.

The Bardia Avenue stadium was funded by the FDBA and is leased on council-owned land.

The FDBA was prepared to contribute $1 million towards the stadium upgrade.

Council is gearing up to lobby state and federal politicians for funding for major projects in the Frankston area in the lead up to imminent state and federal elections.

Mr Hovenden said he does not believe the collapse of the Seaford stadium project that involved three tiers of government funding will impact on political parties’ enthusiasm to be involved in future projects in the area.

First published in the Frankston Times – 16 April 2018

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