MEMBERS of the Northam Bowling Club have overwhelmingly rejected a generous offer by the Shire of Northam for the club to sell its land to the shire to make way for a health and emergency services precinct.
At a special meeting on Monday of last week members voted 67 to 20 not to accept the shire’s offer to buy the Bowling Club site for $900,000, to pay $1.6 million for the construction of two new rinks at the Northam Country Club and to provide $30,000 to engage an independent facilitator to develop an agreement between the Bowling and Country Clubs including amendments to club constitutions and dealing with all co-location issues.
The shire also suggested that in the second year of SuperTowns funding it would seek $200,000 for building modifications to the Country Club and $100,000 towards the club’s parking areas.
Under the proposal it could take up to two years to relocate the Bowling Club.
The first stage would require access to the rear half of the Bowling Club for the construction of the Super Clinic while the playing rinks and clubrooms could be used until rinks and associated facilities were constructed elsewhere..
Despite the apparent generosity of this offer, members at the closed meeting gave it short shrift.
Members spoke about the history of the club and of the angst between golfers and bowlers over decades.
They made it clear they wanted a stand-alone facility if the club was to relocate and would not support co-location.
The shire needed to produce a better plan for members to accept.
Shire staff have an alternative plan but are disappointed with the Bowling Club outcome as they believe it is the best option.
In a media release the Bowling Club said acceptance of the shire’s proposal would mean the club would become a division of the Northam Country Club, something it could not accept.
“The club continues to fully support the shire’s Development Plan for a Health and Emergency Precinct,”the statement said.
Historically, the “club has made way for the development of health facilities by relocating to allow the construction of the old hospital in the mid 1960s.
On that occasion we acquired freehold land at the current site to construct our new facility.
The Northam Bowling Club is committed to working with the shire to facilitate progress on the Health and Emergency Service Precinct. We trust that the shire will be able to offer a suitable proposal which supports our wish to retain our unique identity and independence.
We would anticipate that any proposal put forward would provide for the replacement of our facility on a general like for like basis.
This would include sufficient land, greens, surrounds, and clubhouse facilities. The club would accept a freehold title or consider a long-term, low-cost lease.
The Bowling Club looks forward to further discussions with the shire on this matter.