THE Melville Bowling and Recreation Club is set to remain put for the next 50 years.
After helping secure George Gear Melville’s mayoralty in October and fighting off plans for the clubrooms to be demolished to make way for a Wave Park, the MBRC got the best-possible reward at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
A motion successfully put forward by councillor June Barton instructed Melville’s CEO to negotiate a new and unprecedented long-term lease at it’s Tompkins Park home.
Mr Gear agrees it was a game-changer: “This is breaking new ground for a bowling club to get a 50-year lease,” he said.
Over the past 60 years the club has hosted weddings, birthdays, and end of year celebrations for sporting and community groups, and has demonstrated consistent longevity of an intergenerational club, he said.
It was a crucial part of Melville’s infrastructure, which voters had reaffirmed during the elections.
“I got elected because I opposed it,” he said.
Club President Tim Smith was over-the-moon with the deal, coming as it did after a harrowing campaign that at one point saw members vote to accept the demolition and a move to a new sporting hub at the park next door.
“I get emotional when I talk about it,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a great win, and to reference Paul Keating, a victory for the true believers.”
He said the turn-around gave the council the opportunity to put Melville’s ageing demographic back to the forefront of their planning.
“The last thing we need is the ageing population to be isolated in their own homes with no where to go and socialise,” he said.
He praised the mayor and Cr Barton for having the “courage” to stand up for the club.
Mr Smith said there are plans afoot to redeveloped the club and introduce more contemporary greens and create more spaces for other smaller community clubs.
“The little clubs need a place to call home as well,” he said.
Mr Gear said the club is busier than it has ever been and groups such as women’s netball will soon have a formalised place in the facility.
Councillor Karen Wheatland and Matthew Woodall opposed the 50-year lease, saying the current pandemic highlighted the uncertain future of sporting clubs, while 50 years was just too generous.