GREATER Taree City Council hopes an amenities block at Old Bar Park damaged by a deliberately lit fire in March will be replaced by next March, in time for the winter sporting season.
This could result in Old Bar Pirates junior and senior teams returning to the ground in 2013. The Pirates, along with Old Bar Clams Rugby Club, relocated to the EG Trad Fields this year when Old Bar Park was ruled out as a venue because of the damage to the amenities block, which included the change rooms, canteen and toilets.
Council’s supervisor for parks and reserves, Wayne Hull said council has been advised by the insurance company that a quote for the partial demolition and reconstruction of the amenities block has been accepted.
“We will be meeting with the builder next Tuesday,’’ Mr Hull said.
He added council wants to work completed by next March.
“That’s why we’ve acted so quickly,’’ he said.
Mr Hull said council is confident the new building will be ‘more user friendly and will have a better use of space.’
“There was a lot of wasted space with the old building,’’ he admitted.
Mr Hull added he has yet to meet with representatives from either the junior or senior rugby league club or the Clams.
“They probably won’t make a decision themselves until they have an annual meeting and form committees for next year,’’ he said.
“In fact, we probably won’t hear from the clubs until they make applications for ground allocations for next year.’’
Old Bar Pirates vice president Craig Wheeler said the club wants to return to Old Bar Park - known as The Graveyard in Group Three Rugby League circles. The Pirates trained at the park this year as there aren’t any lights at the Trad Fields, as did the Old Bar Clams.
The new fields also struggled to handle the wet winter and the Pirates were forced to switch home matches to other venues when the ground was closed.
Mr Wheeler pointed out that Old Bar Park centrally located and so is more accessible for spectators.
It is also closer to the Pirates’ major sponsor, Club Old Bar.
“We’re also looking at getting a grant so we can improve the drainage on the ground,’’ he said.
Old Bar Pirates Junior Rugby League Club official Darrin Dark said it was his club’s preferred option to return to Old Bar Park.
“We’d go there tomorrow if we could,’’ he said.
Old Bar Rugby Club president Tim Brown said the Clams will continue to play at the Trad Fields even when Old Bar Park comes back into play.
“We’ll train at the reserve on Monday and Wednesday nights, but we’ll play our games at Trad,’’ he said.
He said Old Bar Park is over-used and despite problems last season with the wet weather, the Clams are happy where they are.
“We have wheels in motion to get some drainage at the field,’’ he said.