By ALEXANDRA LOKAN
The sale of a stretch of Berri river front land has been labelled a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for the town.
The $1.86 million deal has opened up a 1.6ha area of prime river front land – in addition to further centralising the town’s sporting facilities at Glassey Park.
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone says the options are endless for the river front parcel of land, which is now Berri Barmera Council’s responsibility to develop.
“It’s really up to council now to develop and subdivide that piece of real estate,” he said.
“The tell-tale in five years will be, ‘Have council done their due diligence’, and ‘Have they been forward-thinking enough to take up what is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a piece of real estate on the river’.”
After more than five years of delays through the approval process, the State Government this week agreed to sell the Crown Land on which the Berri Bowling Club sits to Berri Barmera Council for $1.86 million.That amount will be offset by a $687,000 grant to help build the club’s new facilities at Glassey Park – which has also been earmarked as home to a new indoor stadium for Berri.
A plan for the stadium has been given approval by the Riverland Regional Development Assessment Panel (RRDAP) and could see netball, basketball and other sports join the Berri home of softball, baseball and hockey.
Council is then free to develop and sell the prime river front real estate once the move is complete to recover the cost of the club’s relocation.
Mr Whetstone’s enthusiasm for the project was mirrored by the Berri Bowling Club, which says the decision is a bonus for the entire community.
Club spokesman Des Button said while members were relieved to have a resolution to the ongoing proposal, the real winner was the Berri community.
“Those that I’ve spoken to are pretty happy with the idea of the move,” he said.
“It is a good result for the bowling club, but the whole project has not been just about the bowling club, it’s been about the redevelopment of a prime parcel of land for the benefit of the general community.
“The bowling club is part of the total package really.”
Mr Button said having State Government Cabinet members – including the Premier – in the region recently was a turning point for the proposal.
“Having the ministers up here and… the ministers meeting one on one with the council… I think it became obvious that Cabinet perhaps didn’t fully understand what the proposal was that the council was putting up,” he said.
“Being able to talk one-on-one to people… sorted out the deal.”
Mr Button said the club’s new rooms would be built onto Glassey Park’s existing buildings, after consultation with council.
“The bowling club will have a room built onto the front of the existing building that’s there with a vantage of facilities,” he said.
“There’s two greens in front of that, with provision for more greens down the track.
“That was always part of the plan, that two greens are put in as part of the move and space allocated to the front for future expansion if required.”
Mr Button said he expected Berri Bowling Club members would be using their current greens for at least the next season.
“We all know that projects of this size can get held up and things can happen,” he said.
“What the time frame is, that’s entirely up to (what) council and the builders and the installers of the greens can do.
“There’s really nothing the bowling club can get involved in at this stage.
“I would think for the next bowls season at least they’ll still be playing on the existing greens and the volunteers do a fantastic job down there.”
By ALEXANDRA LOKAN