The ongoing dispute between Junee’s Soccer Club Committee and the Riverina Schoolboys Rugby League Carnival became the focus of the monthly council meeting tonight.
Council departed from protocol in order to bring the dispute over the new Burns Park soccer field to the forefront.
Councillor Martin Holmes brought the motion, speaking on behalf of the soccer committee’s concerns.
He described the field as being “totally wrecked” following last year’s Schoolboys Carnival in August.
“The grass cover disappeared in 48 hours and it was just dirt,” Cr Holmes said.
Following recent rainfall, Cr Holmes expressed his concerns that a similar situation would eventuate should the carnival go ahead in six weeks’ time.
“I was down there at the weekend, and it was quite soft, very boggy,” he said.
Councillor Mark Cook advocated for the soccer committee’s exclusive claim over the field.
“If it was specifically made for soccer, then the soccer field is for soccer,” he said.
“I think it is unfair to rip it up for just that one day of the year.”
Councillor Pam Halliburton countered the suggestion that the grounds be closed to the carnival.
“It is not the right time of the year to make this kind of decision,” Cr Halliburton said.
Recognising the need to pursue an end to the dispute, Cr Robin Asmus moved to review the policy universally across all sports fields.
“It’s a bit wishy-washy to close one ground [and] cancel the game from Burns Park,” he said.
“Seventy-five years the football carnival has been run and for the past [five] years it’s involved Burns Park. So what has changed?”
Councillor Kerri Walker agreed that the basis for the dispute was the overall policy, which she fears may be too ambiguous to reach a conclusion on its own.
“This policy was put in place to try to resolve the issue,” Cr Walker said.
“I thought we put the policy there so that we didn’t get to the point that the soccer committee and carnival were at each other’s throats.”
On the motion moved by Matt Austin, Council agreed to review the grounds policy more regularly.
To make the situation fairer to both the soccer committee and the Schoolboys Carnival, Council undertook to assess the field conditions every 12 months.
“We need to consider fine tuning the policy to consider the amount of time for all sports on all sports fields,” Cr Halliburton said.