Facility Improvements Underway

The newly repaired and renovated clubrooms.

In February the La Trobe University Hockey Club unveiled their commitment to remain at their home of the past three decades, with a plan to revamp the facilities at KP Hardiman Reserve.

Although progress has been slowed by COVID-19, the club remains focused on improving what have been called the worst hockey facilities in Victoria. The project was set across four time horizons, and are pleased to provide an update on what’s been achieved over the past four months since the plan was announced.

#1 Immediate Fixes
Working closely with Darebin City Council, a number of immediate issues have been addressed. Broken windows, missing lighting, hot water, broken doors, and poor heating have now all been repaired and serviced.

#2 Getting the Rooms up to Scratch
Having addressed the small issues, the club invested considerably to turn the rooms into a safer space that can be better used by members, other teams and families.

The back area previously used for storage has now been cleared out and setup as two seperate changerooms. The interior has been completely painted and had the carpet removed. Signage has been added to assist guests, and a number of small renovations make the rooms much easier to use and maintain.

Work remains ongoing – in the coming weeks and months you’ll see an active alarm installed, updated lighting around the pavilion, renovations to the new Family Changeroom, new projector equipment installed, and new shower cubicles installed in the changerooms. Following a successful grant application last month, the social area will be revamped with new bar tables and stools.

President Zac Martin said: “I’d like to thank the Board who endorsed the decision to invest in our facilities, and the volunteers who made it happen. Particularly I’d like to mention Peter Shackleton, Warwick Oliver, Travis Dowling and Matty Zull who attended multiple working bees. Best on Ground goes to Facilities Coordinator and Life Member Craig Cameron who has spent countless days and weekends down at the Cauldron. Not only has he coordinated the huge effort, he’s been the first one to pick up a paint brush at every session. And he’s much better at it than Trav.”

“The facilities are far from perfect, but soon they’ll be acceptable. And then we can turn our attention to the long term goal of a new pavilion.”

#3 New Field
A project in the works for a number of years, the club is pleased to see an allocation of $2.3m in the draft FY21 Darebin City Council budget. While only a draft at this stage, the club endorses and hopes these funds are approved.

This budget allows for the redevelopment of the current field which has not been replaced in 14 years. This includes significant works to level the surrounding ground, replace fencing and light towers. The club will continue to work with Darebin to input where possible with an aim to include team shelters and an umpiring tech bench.

President Zac Martin said: “The current playing surface and inadequate lighting are no longer safe – which is a challenge when we have hockey seven nights a week during the winter season. We couldn’t be happier with the support from Darebin and keep our fingers cross to start construction shortly, ready for the 2021 season.”

“I’d like to thank former President and Life Member Tim Lonergan who started this project a number of years ago, and continues to steer it through to being fully funded. We may have to name one of the benches after him.”

Pending final approval, the club hopes construction would start later this year. This may mean some disruptions to training and home games should the season be extended due to COVID-19. Members will be notified of alternative arrangements as soon as possible.

#4 New Clubrooms & Beyond
With the above three projects underway, the club turns its attention to a new pavilion. Progress continues, but slowly.

Having been identified as a top ten priority in Darebin’s recent facilities audit, the club hopes to leverage this to gain speed on the project. The club continues to engage local members of parliament and explore grants and other funding opportunities. The first step will be securing funds to develop plans, and then begin collecting contributions from various levels of government until funded.

Our timeline remains 2025 or sooner.

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