A $1.25-MILLION upgrade to Colac’s Central Reserve is on the verge of collapse.
Civic leaders have failed in a bid to attract half of the cash – $625,000 – from round two of the Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund.
The knockback is the latest and harshest blow to the much-anticipated redevelopment of Colac’s premier sports facility.
But it could also damage Labor Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman as he seeks to win over Colac voters to hold onto the seat at the next federal election.
Colac Otway Shire Council had already secured $300,000 for Central Reserve, and has applied for $325,000 worth of Victorian Country Football League grants.
The money was to match the $625,000 of RDAF cash the council wanted, to upgrade the playing surface, build new netball courts and erect lights for competitive football and netball.
But the lack of any cash from the RDAF has put the work in jeopardy, leading Colac Otway Shire mayor Stephen Hart to say “the project is in a very vulnerable situation”.
The council learnt of the knockback in a Federal Government document, which outlined which projects would progress to the next stage of the RDAF process.
Projects at Geelong, Warrnambool and near Heywood will progress to “full application”, instead of Central Reserve.
Cr Hart said the council would meet to discuss how it could move the Central Reserve project forward.
He did not rule out the council making an extra contribution as it developed its 2012-13 budget.
“We can wait and apply for RDA Fund round three, but we want to get some work happening,” he said.
Cr Hart opted against criticising the decision, saying it was “a great disappointment”.
He said people in charge of Central Reserve would have to discuss their priorities.
Cr Hart said the next federal election in 2012 would be one avenue to secure cash, but the council wanted work to start well before that.
“The problem when you stage a project is you might do a particular part of the work and find when you do the next stage there’s a risk of disturbing the work you did in the first stage,” he said.
“This is why we have to go over this very carefully. It’s not a matter of saying we want to do this particular work first.
“I think the surface works should be okay in terms of doing that first, but we really need to go over that.
“From these numbers we’ve been talking about, even if we get that grant we haven’t got confirmed, we’re still up to $200,000 short.”