Newcastle's athletic future is looking brighter after City Of Newcastle established a new sporting oval at Shortland in a planning agreement with a corporate partner and overhauled the surfaces of two popular playing fields.
A new playing ground has been fashioned below Tuxford Park, Shortland, in a $266,000 planning agreement with Aurizon, the rail operator that made the considerable community contribution after building a large maintenance facility at nearby Hexham.
NCC's Recreation Project Coordinator Rod Maughan at the new field at Tuxford Park, Shortland
The Shortland project included a new fence for the upper oval, new drainage to stop water flowing into backyards neighbouring the new field and a pathway connecting it with an amenities block, plus new lights to help Shortland United Junior Football Club train at night.
Council has also levelled the playing surfaces of New Lambton's Alder Park and Merewether's Gibbs Brothers Park, installing new drainage and irrigation systems as part of efforts to provide better facilities for organised sport and other recreational activities.
Former Merewether Carlton rugby player Matt Jackson with sons (L-R) James, Noah, Angus and Tom.
"As our population grows, there's growing demand for training and playing space from sports right across the LGA," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"We’ve made dramatic improvements to these three grounds to provide surfaces kids will enjoy playing on.
"The upgrades are part of our city wide revitalisation program to bring council grounds up to modern standards."
Alder Park, the perennially waterlogged home ground of New Lambton Football Club, has had a $150,000 makeover to help meet the improving standards of the Northern NSW Football.
Subsoil drainage lines every 2.5m will keep the pitch conducive to beautiful football throughout the winter months, while an irrigation system will help newly laid Cooch grass flourish all year.
Drainage lanes were laid every 2.5 metres at New Lambton's Alder Park to solve flooding issues for long-suffering footballers.
Gibb Brothers Park, the training ground of Merewether Carlton Rugby Union Club, has undergone a similar $130,000 makeover, with a newly laid Cooch surface and an irrigation system connected to two new rainwater tanks.
Former Carlton player Matt Jackson, whose four sons play for the club's junior teams, said his boys were really excited about the new ground.
"For years, they have played on a ground that has resembled concrete so they, and the rest of the boys at the Club, are jumping out of their skin to play this year," Jackson said. "We are very thankful to City Of Newcastle for the upgrade and are looking forward to a great year for Merewether Carlton Junior Rugby."
NCC Director Infrastructure Frank Cordingley said the upgrades were an example of how council is providing better services to meet growing expectations.
"Council has ensured these fields have been laser levelled, drained and irrigated to put an end to the seasonal swing between quagmire and dust bowl," he said.
"We have finished these upgrades just as we are beginning to look at the allocation of sporting grounds for winter sports next year and will make improvements to another two ovals over the next year after the 2017/18 budget is finalised."
Tuxford Park's new oval will be opened to Shortland United for light use (training) once turf has been established. Merewether Carlton will play its first game on Gibbs Brothers Oval at the end of April and New Lambton Football Club has resumed practice at Alder Park.