By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong Council has defended its plans to demolish a Noble Park velodrome named after sport legend Maurice Kirby.
The council had come under fire from cyclists, Cycling Victoria and Mr Kirby’s affronted family – the latter of which had not been consulted on the demolition.
Recently, the council made overtures to negotiate with Mr Kirby’s daughter Gayle George.
It has offered to reinstate a mysteriously-disappeared sign that recognised the former sport broadcaster and Pedal Club founder at the site.
Ms George told Star News that she was disappointed that the sign had been apparently gone for several years.
“There’s a sign up there at the moment that makes no mention of the Maurice Kirby Velodrome.”
Under questioning at a 27 August council meeting, city planning director Jody Bosman said there were no registered cycling clubs in Greater Dandenong and “no known demand” for a competitive cycling track.
No organised groups used the velodrome in Parkfield Reserve, there was minimal support for the facility and no requests for an upgrade for the facility, he said.
If retained, the “sub-standard” velodrome would need to be demolished and re-constructed .
Mr Bosman said based on “historical usage”, retaining the velodrome would be unlikely to encourage the “greatest level of extra cycling” compared to other infrastructure.
There were also “risk factors” due to soccer and cricket being played on fields inside the track.
He was asked by Cr Matthew Kirwan how the council would foster cycling as a sport – as stated in its own cycling strategy – without the region’s only velodrome.
Mr Bosman took that question on notice, as well as questions on the cost of demolition.
Springvale cyclist Kim Nguyen who is heading a campaign to save the track, said he doubted claims the entire tarmac track needed replacing.
“It’s far from a professional standard but no one has complained about its standard.”
He said the most degraded bumpy parts were present only in a small southern section of the track. A recent resurfacing of a Hawthorn velodrome with fine asphalt by Boroondara Council cost $50,000, he said.
The track still suited the needs of training lap cyclists, and families wanting a safe area to teach their children how to ride.
“People ride bikes to be fit and healthy, but don’t necessarily want to be involved in a cycling club.”
The track had suffered from under-promotion, including a lack of way-marking signs to the venue, he said.
With no final decision yet made on the track’s future, Mr Nguyen said there were community moves to reintroduce a cycling club and to promote the velodrome.
Cr Roz Blades said consulted residents had told the council they don’t use the track and saw it as an “impediment”.
She said there was still a “long way to go” to reconcile the council’s draft masterplan with the track cyclists.
“There’s two sides to every discussion and it’s up to us to listen to both sides.”