Taree Recreation Ground User Group will seek a meeting with the State Minister for Sport John Sidoti as a matter of urgency during his expected visit to the area next month to discuss the deteriorating condition of playing fields at Taree's premier sporting facility.
"The grounds need a hell of a lot of work to drain and re-turf them,'' user group chairman Craig Colvin said.
He described the playing surface as 'substandard.' Mr Colvin understands the drought has contributed heavily to the problem. However, he said money has to be spent on the fields to ensure there's no major decline, even during a protracted dry spell or when there has been excessive rain.
"We have to attract funding for $150,000 per field for turfing and irrigating,'' Mr Colvin said.
There are six rugby league fields at the complex, also used by touch football and other sports.
"If we want a great facility it comes at a cost,'' Mr Colvin pointed out.
If we want a great facility it comes at a costTaree Recreation Centre user group chairman Craig Colvin
"We will be having talks with MidCoast Council regarding ways to attract funding.''
Mr Colvin said Taree City Bulls Rugby League Club can't train at the rec centre because of the poor condition of the fields. The club now trains at the Jack Neal Oval.
"The Bulls hope to get an under 18s next year, so there won't be the room for them to train at the Neal Oval,'' Mr Colvin said.
Earlier this year the annual Group Three Junior League knockout had to be moved to Port Macquarie because of the poor state of the recreation ground fields. The event is traditionally held in Taree and is a major fundraiser for the two Taree-based junior league clubs.
Mr Colvin concedes there's no 'big buckets of money' now available for sports funding and this is why his group needs to speak with the State minister. User group members met with Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, last week to discuss the problem.
He said a first class facility at the recreation centre would make the task of attracting major sporting championships here much easier.
Mr Colvin concedes that MidCoast Council's priority would be maintaining roads and bridges.
"But there has to be a balance. Sport is massively important,'' he said.
Mr Colvin revealed the group has purchased an aerator and sprinklers for use at the grounds.
"But we really need to take off the first 100 millimeters of dirt to start looking at drainage and start filling it with an organic material that will soak in.
"With irrigation we could hopefully get a great facility. We just can't sit around hoping it will rain.
"There's been no major money spent on the recreation centre fields for years. What has been spent is just day-to-day maintenance.
"We got the lighting upgrade, but that was about 10 years ago in the Rob Oakeshott days.''
Taree Recreation Centre was opened by the former Taree Municipal Council in the mid-1960s.
The complex is now the headquarters of Taree Basketball, Manning Hockey, Manning Netball, Manning Cycle Club and Taree Touch Football and it is also used by junior league, cricket, twilight cricket and Football Mid North Coast.