Council endorses plan to build three new drought-proof ovals in Caulfield Park
At their meeting on Tuesday 17th March 2009, Council voted to landscape the three existing southern ovals. At the same time the new ovals will be planted up with new grass that will bear climate change better. Plans to protect passers-by with extended fences of over 100 metres along the perimeter of two of the ovals, thus creating a narrow and dangerous corridor where people could be trapped by loiterers, or unable to get out of the way of bikes etc., have been dropped
The decision had met with mixed reactions. Cricketers asked who has ever been hit by a ball? (Councillor Tang's justification for voting for the measure). The public at large were furious. Friends of Caulfield Park made strenuous efforts to prefent the fence and eventually Council withdrew the idea. Once again this measure was sprung upon the people of Glen Eira with no consultation and minimal time to react.
The motion that was passed to relocate three ovals, move the path across the park, cut down 15 trees, put in cement paths and put in two 1.2 metre fences.
ORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING – AGENDA 17 MARCH 2009 66
WARM SEASON GRASSES – ACCELERATED CONVERSION PROGRAM – CAULFIELD PARK Enquiries: Paul Burke Director Community Relations
At the Council Meeting on 15 October 2008 at Agenda item 10(a) Requests for Report, Council resolved as follows:
REQUEST FOR REPORTS
That a report be prepared on the current state of the surface of each park in Glen Eira, the remedial options that are available at each site to improve the surface whether by the planting of drought resistant grasses, the laying of artificial turf or any other method and the estimated costs of the work in each park. The report should include some sort of timeline for the works to be commenced and completed.
The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.
2. Community Plan 2008 - 2013
Theme 3 Strategic Objective:
To enhance the recreation, leisure and sporting facilities in Glen Eira to improve community wellbeing and strengthen the community.
Active and passive recreation in Glen Eira is limited by the quantity and quality of playing surfaces.
The quantity of sports fields is limited by the amount of open space in the municipality. Glen Eira has the lowest or, on some measures, second lowest, amount of public open space of any of the Councils in metropolitan Melbourne. (This probably arose historically as a result of the lack of foreshore and river banks.)
Council has had to cap the number of winter sports teams due to sports grounds
being at capacity.
Council has given high priority to identifying land which might be able to be used for recreation.
• Last year, Council obtained approval in principle for the former Glen Huntly Reservoir to be used as public open space and committed to public consultation on the nature of that use.
• Council also entered into an agreement with the Melbourne Racing Club that when training is removed from the Caulfield Racecourse, an area of Crown Land currently used for stables would be added to Glen Huntly Reserve.
Over the last ten years Council has undertaken rolling programs across the 45 sports grounds in the municipality to reduce the risk of injury, maximise the use of these
facilities and respond to reducing rainfall. This has included the installation of an automatic municipal wide irrigation system for all sports grounds, installation of training lights at numerous grounds to meet new Australian Standards and the resurfacing of sports grounds to drought tolerant surfaces.
The lack of rainfall and recent extreme temperatures have had a significant impact on Glen Eira’s sports grounds even though Council has been very proactive in its approach to developing and maintaining the grounds.
The grounds in the poorest condition are those without drought tolerant grass surfaces and those unable to be watered due to water restrictions. The introduction of these State Government water restrictions originally only allowed one in four grounds to be watered. This summer season saw these restrictions changed by the water companies providing Council with a limited water allocation (equivalent to the “one in four grounds”) to use as determined by South East Water in conjunction with Council.
3.3 Condition of Grounds
Glen Eira has undertaken a rolling program to convert sports ground playing surfaces to warm season grass species in order to reduce water consumption and to provide more suitable surfaces during drought conditions. Council has converted approximately three grounds per year under this program. This program has included both resurface works and total ground reconstructions.
The current condition of Glen Eira sports grounds can be summarised as follows:
• Grounds that have full warm season cover are holding together reasonably well. Some grounds will look brown but there is plenty of root structure and plant that will regenerate once the weather cools a little.
• Grounds with only partial warm season grass cover that have been watered under the current restrictions have not faired so well as the cool season grasses need more water than can currently be allocated to them. These grounds have suffered severely during the last week of extreme temperatures.
• Grounds that have not received any water due to restrictions have suffered the worst. Some have very little grass cover at present.
Attachment A sets out
• a list of the grounds
• a horizontal bar graph showing the proportion of warm season grass
• those grounds which are under training lights
• those grounds which are getting limited mains watering under the current restrictions
• the assessment undertaken in January 2009 of the condition of the ground.
Conditions have deteriorated since those assessments were taken.
3.4 Synthetic Surfaces
The technologies behind synthetic sports surfaces are developing to the point where they offer alternatives to grass. The newer synthetic surfaces are longer pile materials that are generally infilled with sand and or rubber granules that are made from recycled shredded rubber tyres. Considerations relating to synthetic surfaces are set out in Attachment B.
Synthetic surfaces could assist to meet the heavy demand for training and the playing of games. There are some constraints on the use of synthetic surfaces in a fully established municipality such as Glen Eira including the need for synthetic surfaces to be fenced and some other environmental issues.
4. Action to improve the condition of grounds
The most effective action to improve the condition of grounds, for both active and passive recreation, would be to accelerate the conversions to warm season grasses.
The constraints on conversion are:
1. water to establish the turf
2. reducing the number of grounds on which clubs can play.
Melbourne’s water storage levels are getting very low (see attachment C) and there
must be a risk of the availability of mains water for sportsgrounds being reduced or
abolished late this year.
This submission offers the option of converting:
• three grounds between the cricket season and football season in April 2009
• and another program of conversions between the football season and the next
cricket season in September 2009.
4.1 Caulfield Park
Works are scheduled for the ovals on the south (Balaclava Road) side of Caulfield Park. The opportunity could be taken to lay warm season grasses at the same time.
As part of the master plan and following the construction of the pavilion, there are a number of consequential works. The ovals need to be reconfigured to achieve safety distances of 50 metres. That cannot be done till the “grey hex” pavilion is removed. That can’t be done until the end of this cricket season. The cricket wickets need to be moved to the east (see attachment D). It also requires the reconfiguration of some paths and would entail the removal of 15 trees and the planting of 120 new trees.
The conversions of warm season grasses could be added to this project and carried
out during autumn, starting next month. There would be some economies of scale
from doing the warm season grasses at the same time as the other works.
The clubs could be relocated for the 2009 season to Duncan Mackinnon Reserve.
As Council has almost used up its allocation of mains water for sports grounds for the
2008/09 year, we would need to bring in “Class A” recycled water. South East Water
has advised that it can supply us. The estimated cost would be $120,000 to
$150,000, depending on conditions. Water tanks would need to be installed. Drip
irrigation systems would be installed under the new turf. Drip irrigation uses 30%
less water than spray irrigation.
The preferred time for laying the grass is in the growing season in spring. If laid in autumn, the grass would start to establish but would be dormant over winter. It would establish fully in early spring and be fully playable for the cricket season.
During winter it would be easily damaged and the area of new turf would have to be fenced from April to September. The fences would be the same as have been used
in similar projects recently in Murrumbeena Reserve and Glen Huntly Park without complaint. For the project to go ahead, a judgement would have to be made that the
short term inconvenience of having this area fenced was outweighed by the long term benefit of better and more sustainable surfaces.
Caulfield Park is the City’s largest Park. It hosts walkers, joggers, dog walkers, community festivals as well as sport. Concern was expressed by a number of parties last year as to the condition of the surfaces in the Park (Attachment E). Conversion to sustainable surfaces would benefit all concerned.
To do the works at short notice, we would manage the project ourselves and use a large number of small contractors rather than specify all the work in a single contract and tender it. The estimated costs include
• the original relocation works and tree plantings $225,000
• preparing the ground, supply and installation of the turf $460,000
• irrigation $210,000
• tanks $35,000
• plus the cost of water.
The all up cost would be of the order of $1m. Of this $435,000 is available within the 2008-09 Budget. The remaining cost of approximately $550,000 is the price if Council wishes to double the conversion program in response to deteriorating conditions.
The most finite resources in this case are the playing surfaces and water rather than money.
If Council wishes to accelerate the conversion of grounds to warm season grasses
an appropriate resolution would be:
a. note the condition of grounds in Glen Eira and that there is a direct correlation between condition and the proportion of warm season grasses;
b. in response to deteriorating conditions, accelerate the conversion of grounds to warm season grasses;
c. initiate this acceleration in Caulfield Park because other works are planned for that Park and it would be economic to include conversion to warm season grasses at the same time;
d. authorise the works in Caulfield Park as described in section 4.1 of this report and the resources identified in section 4.2 of this report; and e. communicate this action to residents, clubs and other stakeholders.