BENDIGO councillors have an opportunity to prioritise a master plan for a sports reserve servicing one of the city's fast-growing suburbs.
But that's not the course of action recommended by city staffers, who have raised concerns about preferential treatment.
Almost 490 people have petitioned council to upgrade and provide ongoing maintenance for the junior oval at Strauch Reserve.
The petition aimed to bring the oval to a standard where it could be used for recreation, training and junior cricket and football matches.
The city said it did not have the budget or staff resources to do the necessary work, given its existing commitments.
However, city staff highlighted concerns about the junior oval.
"It is not irrigated, has no sporting quality topsoil and is therefore unable to cope with the increasing use, and... it is currently being used as a de-factor car park," a report to councillors said.
"To formalise use of this oval, full construction of an appropriate surface is necessary to maximise use and ensure safety of user groups."
The works were estimated at $800,000, plus an additional $30,000 a year for maintenance.
"A significant project such as this requires detailed planning and design, which has not occurred," the report said.
The City of Greater Bendigo did not construct the junior oval.
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City staff acknowledged a need for more or upgraded sports facilities to service the growing suburb of Huntly.
They identified other options that could be explored to meet demand, including using other grounds and the potential for a joint agreement with the neighbouring primary school.
Two options were put to councillors to consider at Wednesday's meeting.
Either councillors could prioritise a 2020-21 bid to prepare a master plan for all of Strauch Reserve, or consider the project along with all others through the budget process.
Prioritising the project would require additional staff resources, city staff said, "given the committed pipeline of projects".
That course of action could also pose "social and economic risks".
Hence, city staff recommended councillors opt to consider the design of a junior oval at Strauch Reserve alongside all other project requests as part of the 2020-21 budget process.
Story continues below City of Greater Bendigo November meeting agenda:
They conceded that the proposed course of action "does not necessarily meet the timing expectations of the community, who are [sic] seeking a timely response to an existing concern."
Staff also recommended the city keep monitoring Huntly's growth and development "to ensure facilities were provided in a timely manner to meet community needs".
Wednesday's meeting is open to the public and starts at 6pm in the Bendigo Town Hall.
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