19 November, 2021
Clubhouse on backburner for Esk Tennis Club
DESPITE descriptions of being ‘hot in summer and cold in winter’, and with no onsite toilet facilities, Esk Tennis Club’s proposal for a new clubhouse was delayed at last week’s Somerset Regional Council meeting.
The decision to delay the new building, which would also incorporate the Esk Girl Guide group, came after council officers found boundary alignment problems on the site.
As part of the report, council officers said the existing clubhouses are ‘are aging facilities that do not meet universal design principles or modern community expectations and are increasingly becoming inadequate’.
While the Girl Guide Hut does have toilet facilities, they do not include disabled facilities, and there is no general disability access to the building.
The Guide Hut was apparently gifted to the Girl Guides at the end of construction of Wivenhoe Dam, when it was deemed surplus to needs.
The Tennis Club is even worse off in terms of facilities, with only a kitchenette, and no actual toilets, which requires players, including unaccompanied juniors, to walk more than 70 metres to the nearest public toilets.
Members of the Esk Tennis Club first met with Somerset Councillors in 2020, to make them aware of problems with the clubhouse, and to discuss possible solutions.
Tennis Club president Ian Myles said the councillors were supportive of the project from the beginning, with Mayor Graeme Lehmann proposing a steering committee of Councillors, Tennis Club representatives and also Esk Girl Guides Leader Kathy Heck, to investigate options.
During council investigations into the various options available, it was found there were issues with the siting of buildings within the general layout of the Esk Recreation Grounds Reserve, which includes the Tennis Club and Girl Guides Hut.
While the majority of the problems relate to the location of the Esk Bowls Club, there is another small alignment problem with the playground, which was found to make it difficult for the Council to expand the current number of tennis courts from three to six.
Mr Myles said there was no relationship between the bowls clubhouse and the tennis club facilities.
Mr Myles said the boundary realignment issues had no bearing on the proposed clubhouse, as it was on a separate block.
“There is no relationship between the Bowls Club or the Tennis Club,” he said.
Mr Myles said the boundary realignments only impact on the tennis club was if the council wanted to expand the number of courts from three to six, however that was not part of the proposal to build the new clubhouse.
“Our proposal was to build a clubhouse facing onto the existing courts, there was no request for additional courts,” he said.
Council officers instead recommended the project be deferred until 2025, when the current lease for the Bowls Club expired, to allow the realignment issues to be resolved, and the clubhouse project to proceed.
Leonie Myles, another Esk Tennis Club member said the members were told they would never get funding, except for a ‘community centre’.
“Is that not a tennis club?” Mrs Myles said.
“We’re very frustrated, we have pushed for 20 months, but they won’t let us do anything.
“It (the clubhouse) is not a nice environment.”
Mrs Myles said the tennis club secured a Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant to have one of the three courts upgraded, on the condition the Somerset Council upgrade the remaining two courts at the same time.
“We have to ask for an extension on the grant.”
Club president Ian Myles dowplayed this concern, saying the court upgrade would be going ahead in 2022, ‘hopefully between January and April’.
“We’re still positive, we’re still moving forward, we are ready to get funding, but we have no idea where it is going to come from,” Mr Myles said.
In the meantime, the original council officer’s recommendation, for the council to investigate the cost of installing solar lighting and upgrading the footpaths, was passed unanimously by the councillors.
In addition, Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke added an amendment asking that the Council continue to engage with the Esk Tennis and girl Guides Clubhouse Steering committee to consider alternative solutions for a future clubhouse.
The amendment was fully supported by the councillors, while Cr Brieschke said afterwards the building could continue to be developed, and could happen once funding grants were received.