Camden Tigers Soccer Club frustrated at Camden Council's lack of support over the maintenance of its home ground

Frustrated: Camden Tigers committee member Greg Dickinson said the committee had tried to reason with Camden Council about the cost of the upkeep of Ron Dine Reserve, which cost $65,000 last year alone. Picture: Anna Warr
Frustrated: Camden Tigers committee member Greg Dickinson said the committee had tried to reason with Camden Council about the cost of the upkeep of Ron Dine Reserve, which cost $65,000 last year alone. Picture: Anna Warr

THE Camden Tigers Soccer Club committee says it is struggling to continue with a licence agreement that obliges the club to maintain its Camden South grounds.

The agreement, which was signed 18 months ago, means the club must cover the entire cost to maintain the Camden Council-owned Ron Dine Reserve.

Committee member Greg Dickinson said the club spent $65,000 last year alone to upkeep the six hectare reserve – an ongoing cost that has become unsustainable.

Camden mayor Lara Symkowiak said the club could break the five-year long agreement — but in doing so would lose exclusive access to the fields.

The club says it felt coerced into signing the agreement 18 months ago.

Then president David Harvey said he was put ‘‘between a rock and a hard place’’ when told his options were to agree to undertake all the maintenance or face restricted use of the field.

He said he reluctantly signed the agreement.

‘‘I’ve been involved in sport all my life and councils have always assisted with maintaining their grounds,’’ Mr Dickinson said. ‘‘Now we’ve had to totally wear the cost and it’s unsustainable.’’

‘‘We would need to invest upwards of $60,000 to buy the right mowers and spreaders and fertilisers – that’s money a community club doesn’t have.

‘‘The money we’ve spent maintaining the grounds could be far better spent on sporting equipment, amenities and coaches.

‘‘Our priority is to keep our fees down but if this continues we would be forced to increase fees which means less kids will play football.’’

Mr Dickinson said the club recently met with the council in the hope of finding a compromise but was told firmly the agreement stood.

‘‘It’s hard to cop,’’ he said.

Even harder was a recent email from the council ordering the club to fix a ‘‘big hole in the grass’’ that it deemed a safety issue.

‘‘It is a substantial hole that could quite possibly break somebody’s leg,’’ the email said. ‘‘It is the responsibility of the club to fix this.’’

‘‘This is getting to the point of ridiculousness,’’ Mr Dickinson said.

Cr Symkowiak said she was disappointed the club felt council was unsupportive.

‘‘Council is not asking the Tigers to do any more maintenance than other clubs who have exclusive use of a council facility. In exchange for sole use, council asks the club to mow the grass and maintain the clubhouse,’’ she said.

‘‘Council is contacted regularly by clubs who want an exclusive agreement like the Tigers currently have. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate every club so if the Tigers are looking to break their agreement, council could start considering other applications for exclusive use or seasonal hire.

‘‘Other clubs who manage similar size grounds have not reported issues with maintaining their fields.’’

Cr Symkowiak said nine clubs had signed licence agreements – the oldest current agreement started in 1961.

Camden Tigers is one of the largest sporting clubs in the area with 900 registered players from under-6 through to representative grades.

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