EXPLAINER

'A dream come true': Shovels ready for new Bowra sports hub

Draft plan for the new Bowraville Hub
Draft plan for the new Bowraville Hub

There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into conceptualising and getting the much-needed financial support for the Bowraville Connections Sports Precinct.

And without the never-say-die will of the Bowra community, it might have become another grand idea which fell by the wayside.

The extensive community-led project was knocked back from more than one favourable grant opportunity, but a solid election promise by Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey secured the $3 million - to be released to the community via a funding agreement, with a series of milestones and deadlines which need to be met.

The wheels of bureaucracy have been painfully slow for many, but in just over a month's time, the first shovel will go into the ground for the redesigned golf course, with the brand new community and sports hub building not far behind that.

"It's a dream come true," the 'Nambucca Valley Connected - Sharing Sport Throughout the Region' committee's Mary Dal Santos said.

The elected governing body of the committee - Mary, Craig Doolan, Paul Le Cerf, Perry McNally and Dave Taylor - is now ready to lodge the DAs for both projects, after the first instalment of funding from the NSW Office Of Sport was released.

"The NSW Government is proud of its $3 million investment in a project which will provide social and economic benefits across the Nambucca Valley and is working closely with Nambucca Valley Council and Bowraville Recreational Club to deliver the project," a spokesperson for the Office Of Sport said.

Nambucca Valley Council has also committed $700,000 to construct the new access road, carpark and paths.

The draft plan for the inside layout of the Hub

The draft plan for the inside layout of the Hub

The plan so far

The new purpose-built and community-owned and run club building will be nestled in between the football fields and the golf course.

The plan drafted by GHD in Coffs Harbour features a glass balcony to make the most of the magical mountain scenery surrounding the hub.

The draft plan for the 2km (in red) and 3km (blue extension) circuit cross country track

The draft plan for the 2km (in red) and 3km (blue extension) circuit cross country track

An adjustable two and three km cross country track suitable to host regional and state events will ring the precinct, which already features new basketball/netball courts, a skate park, bmx track, and state-of-the-art playground.

And when the brand new covered bowling greens are opened, the Nambucca Valley will finally qualify to host pennant finals, by incorporating the existing greens at both Nambucca and Macksville.

"We've spoken with Bowling Australia who said they'll put us on their calendar," Craig Doolan said.

The redesigned nine-hole golf course will feature a signature hole, which will see players teeing over a vast lake back towards the clubhouse.

"So everyone sitting out on the deck can watch the balls fly over," Craig said.

"And we'll need a new course manager and green keeper - so it'll create jobs in our community."

The 'possible development' is the proposed lifestyle village, operated by NVC Group and owned by the Rec Club

The 'possible development' is the proposed lifestyle village, operated by NVC Group and owned by the Rec Club

And best of all, if all goes to plan, the entire sports precinct will be ready for use by the end of June next year.

"It's all going to happen real quick now and we're excited," Craig said.

Plans for the old Rec Club

Currently there are negotiations about repurposing the old Bowra Rec Club and fitting it out as a series of communal spaces within a lifestyle retirement village, with a proposal for 37 houses to be built on site.

The idea is the Rec Club will retain ownership of the facility but appoint NVC Group as operators of the village.

"The space has got everything going for it," NVC Group CEO John Butler said.

"And NVC's really committed to making sure there's something in it for the Bowraville community. The village would be geared towards being affordable for people around the Bowraville area."

The next step, of course, is to find the funding necessary to make the dream a reality.

"But if we can make it happen, we certainly will," he said.

What the precinct means

Both Craig and Perry said they're happy to know that future generations of Bowraville kids will be able to enjoy the kinds of facilities they benefited from as youngsters.

"This project will ensure sport and recreation will be preserved and enhanced for the future," Craig said.

And Paul is glad the land with all its historical and cultural significance to the local Gumbaynggirr people will be conserved.

"Sport means so much to them, and it feels good to give something back after all they've done for sport, and us, by allowing us to be on this land," he said.

Right now, August can't come soon enough.

The committee is currently on the hunt for a skilled and experienced project manager to steer the project build to completion by June 30.

"It would be great if we could find someone suitably qualified in the local community," Craig said.

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