Velodrome decision on hold

Riders on the Maurice Kirby Velodrome. Its approved demolition has been put on hold by a rescission motion. 186015_03 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong councillors have approved the controversial demolition of Maurice Kirby Velodrome, but the decision is set to be soon revisited.

After the vote in front of a fiery public gallery on 27 November, councillor Matthew Kirwan lodged a rescission motion against the decision.

The rescission motion is expected to be tabled at a future meeting.

Cr Kirwan had argued that the cycling community should be heard before the council acts.

“It was fair for them to be consulted formally about whether the velodrome can be made viable or whether we need to look at an alternative site for a regional facility,” Cr Kirwan said.

“There is no rush – there will be no significant budget for this facility until next financial year.

“Let’s do a thorough review of the viability of the velodrome before rushing to demolish it.”

Earlier that night, councillors approved an $11 million upgrade for Parkfield Reserve, Noble Park – including the demolition of the circular cycling track.

They were at times applauded, at times heckled by a lively gallery of members from the reserve’s cricket, soccer and tennis clubs – who are in desperate need for modern, expanded facilities.

Also vocal were cyclists who have applied to re-form a cycling club and are pushing for the velodrome’s retention.

Gayle George – daughter of famed sports commentator and Pedals Club founder Maurice Kirby – defiantly addressed the councillors after the decision.

The master plan includes expanding the cricket and soccer arena, and replacing derelict sports pavilions with a modern shared clubhouse.

A shared cycling-walking path, barbecues and playground would also be built.

In support of the plan, Councillor Tim Dark argued for “state-of-the-art” facilities for the tenant cricket, soccer and tennis clubs.

There was a need to ensure the “right assets were in place for the right groups”, especially given the well-known shortage of open space in Noble Park, Cr Dark said.

It would help Noble Park Tennis Club housed in “ageing” facilities, as well as Parkfield United Cricket Club and Noble Park United Soccer Club’s needs to expand, he said.

The cycling track had “become defunct through a lack of membership in the area”.

Cr Dark said feedback for the plan was “overwhelming”; there was “an urgent need for the best facilities in Greater Dandenong” at the site.

Cr Angela Long, in support, said she’d never seen a cyclist on the track during 40 years of visiting as a rival cricket-club member.

She said the current ground was too small for adult cricketing standards and required expansion.

Councillor Kirwan referred to Cycling Victoria’s last-minute plea for retaining the velodrome last week.

In a letter to the council, CV general manager Craig Eastwood described the velodrome as an “historic” “key piece of infrastructure for growing participation in cycling”.

CV would sanction any events and fixtures at the venue – if the council retained and resurfaced the track, Mr Eastwood wrote.

Cr Kirwan said the recent application to re-form a cycling club at the track was another “game-changer”.

Cr Maria Sampey, in support of deferral, said the velodrome’s “appalling condition” had deterred cyclists from using the venue.

Cr Jim Memeti said the council should proceed with the masterplan and pursue a South-East regional velodrome at another site.

“It’s great to see the resurgence of cycling.

“They’ve been missing for so long.

“Let’s work with the state and federal governments and make sure the resurgence of cycling in our city and the South East continues.”

 

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