Pool operator eyes former footy site

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PENINSULA Leisure have received permission to respond to the open expression of interest at the former Linen House facility. Picture: Gary Sissons

PENINSULA Leisure has been given permission to respond to the expression of interest at St Kilda FC’s former home in Seaford and the tender for Pines Forest Aquatic Centre. 

Peninsula Leisure Pty Ltd is a council owned and independently run entity. They are the operator of Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre and the Pines Forest Aquatic Centre on behalf of Frankston Council. 

The vote to determine if the organisation should be allowed to proceed was set to take place in secret behind closed doors at council’s most recent meeting, but was brought into the public section of the meeting at the agreement of a majority of councillors.

Councillors approved a motion which read that council “notes Peninsula Leisure’s request to respond to the tender for Pines Forest Aquatic Centre and the expression of interest for the Frankston Health and Wellbeing Hub” and “grants permission for Peninsula Leisure to respond to both opportunities”.

Council opened expressions of interest at the newly dubbed Frankston Health and Wellbeing Hub last month. The Seaford site, once called Linen House, was the training base of St Kilda Football Club for under a decade. 

Ratepayer money was used to entice the Saints to the facility, which has mostly sat vacant since the club’s return to Moorabbin in 2018.

Cr Glenn Aitken was the sole present councillor opposed to the move.

“Peninsula Leisure have the right to make a request, what concerns me is that Peninsula Leisure is essentially linked to Frankston Council,” he said. “I feel uncomfortable, and I’m comfortable this is into open council. It seems that the entity we were involved with and created, it’s got tentacles, and they are extending.

“When there is an entity we are a part of, and there’s a desire to expand, we need to look closely at it.”

The future use of the former Linen House site is subject to a lease renegotiation with St Kilda Football Club. The expression of interest document reads that the club “continues to have lease hold interest in the facility and any future decisions regarding use/tenants of the site will be subject to future negotiations and agreements between Frankston City Council and the St Kilda Football Club.”

Former Frankston mayor Michael O’Reilly told The Times that the current lease signed by the St Kilda Football Club doesn’t expire until 2059. He said “St Kilda FC representatives will not form part of the assessment panel that will make recommendations to council. The future use of the facility will be subject to a renegotiated lease arrangement with the club, given they presently still hold the lease for the site.”

“St Kilda FC have supported council in undertaking this EOI process ahead of future negotiations, and are eager to see new services and activities taking place at the venue that will achieve greater community benefit,” he said (“Push to use Seaford sports hub”, The Times, 4/11/19).

Cr Colin Hampton said at the meeting that Peninsula Leisure has “an independent board that makes decisions, and is not part of the council.” He noted that council has “the ability to dismiss the board”.

He spoke positively on Peninsula Leisure, saying “PARC is probably the best aquatic centre in the state.” He said “the company has behaved in a magnificent way.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 2 December 2019

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