Parkes Shire Council shortlists 14 projects for government funding

UPGRADES NEEDED: Six tennis courts that are in desperate need of upgrading are among the 14 projects shortlisted for some government funding and tennis coach Helen Magill is thrilled. Photo: Christine Little
UPGRADES NEEDED: Six tennis courts that are in desperate need of upgrading are among the 14 projects shortlisted for some government funding and tennis coach Helen Magill is thrilled. Photo: Christine Little

In what has been described as an overwhelming response from the community, Parkes Shire Council has released a shortlist of 14 projects to be submitted for grant funding.

Last month council invited the community to share and vote on projects they wanted prioritised through council's new online engagement platform Your Say Parkes.

Almost $3 million in government funding is available to spend on infrastructure in Parkes - $1.67 million from the NSW Government Resources for Regions (R4R) Fund and $1.3 million from the Australian Government's Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCI Program).

Those that made the cut for the R4R Fund were $1.62 million upgrades to the Spicer Oval amenity building and carpark and $50,000 for a business case to link the Parkes CBD to the Newell Highway Bypass.

Twelve projects were selected for the LRCI Program.

They include Parkes tennis court upgrades ($175,000); Spicer Oval lighting ($400,000); child safety traffic upgrades at Parkes East Public School ($250,000); and road, footpath and stormwater repair and maintenance ($95,000).

CCTV in Peak Hill's main street ($20,000); refurbishment of the Parkes Coventry Room into a community cultural space ($100,000); a Wiradjuri Keeping Place and preservation of artefacts ($35,000); and CBD smart infrastructure - banner raising components ($30,000).

Doctors residence upgrade at Tullamore ($80,000); fence at Alectown Cemetery ($30,000); repairs and maintenance to protect collections at the Henry Parkes Centre ($50,000); and a footpath upgrade in Rose Street ($35,000).

The project page was viewed more than 7900 times with 1746 registered participants casting 3665 votes across 33 projects listed during its voting period.

There was strong support for a range of projects across the Parkes Shire, with the two works at Spicer Oval attracting the most votes at 555 combined.

The Parkes tennis courts had 405 votes and new facilities at Pioneer Oval had 235, while 219 people voted for the hockey turf 1 upgrade and repair, 207 for the child safety traffic upgrades at Parkes East, 189 for a splash park at Kelly Reserve and 150 for more shared pathways.

Council said it also received "useful comments on existing ideas and other valuable contributions for future projects" on the platform.

Once voting closed on July 31, the shortlist was created for both funding programs and tabled at council's monthly meeting on August 18.

VOTES: The Your Say Parkes platform was viewed more than 7900 times with 3665 votes cast across 33 projects. The number of votes each project received appears next to the heart.

VOTES: The Your Say Parkes platform was viewed more than 7900 times with 3665 votes cast across 33 projects. The number of votes each project received appears next to the heart.

Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith OAM said council wanted to share the money as much as possible so more groups could benefit.

"The contributions (on Your Say Parkes) formed part of council's decision on the selection of which community infrastructure projects would be submitted under the current rounds of funding which total $2.97 million," he said.

"When considering the vote results, council took into consideration those that may have been influenced by vested interest clubs and groups, that is, a project with lower votes but uninfluenced by vested groups may have higher appeal to a broader section of the community."

The Parkes Tennis Club is thrilled its project to upgrade six of its 15 courts to competition level is among those selected.

The cost of the work is estimated to be $250,000 but after a lengthy discussion at the council meeting, it was agreed $175,000 would be allocated and the Parkes Tennis Club Committee will contribute $75,000.

The last time the club received government funding to resurface its courts was in 1989 and the last upgrade to selected courts was in 2005.

"There is hardly a single day throughout the year, weather permitting, when you drive past the courts and they are empty," head coach Helen Magill said.

"We have courts that are in desperate need of upgrading to Tennis Australia standards so we can bid for more events once COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

"Courts 7 to 12 will be upgraded, we use them for our book-a-court system."

While community feedback and sentiment was important, Cr Keith said it was only one piece of the puzzle.

"Council also needed to take into consideration the guidelines of the grant, budget, including the lifetime cost of the project and the benefits to the community," he said.

All projects have to be submitted to the government first for assessment against the funding criteria, with final approvals not guaranteed.

"The final approval is entirely at the discretion of the auspicing government," Cr Keith said.

As part of both funding requirements, projects have to have an identified benefit to the community in line with local strategic plans and masterplans.

Council will keep a list of the remaining projects that were put forward on the Your Say Parkesplatform and where appropriate, will be developed further for future grant opportunities.

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