The ongoing dispute between Frankston District Basketball Association (FDBA) and Frankston City Council (Council), over lease terms for the Frankston Basketball Stadium site in Seaford, has put $5.2 million in Federal Government funding for basketball and co-utilised facilities in jeopardy.
The much-publicised dispute has been ongoing for over 12 months, and has stalled and put at risk the shovel-ready works for the basketball stadium’s expansion and redevelopment.
Federal Member for Dunkley, Chris Crewther MP, said that he was incredibly disappointed that the basketball community in Dunkley had suffered throughout this dispute. Mr Crewther noted that he is very concerned that this dispute could result in the loss of the $5.2 million Federal funds for the project.
Mr Crewther has worked with various Ministers to keep the Federal funding available for an extended time while the dispute has continued, despite several project milestones being missed.
“I have worked with my Federal colleagues to ensure that the $5.2 million Federal Government funding has remained on the table.
“Funding recipients are required to meet their project milestone obligations prior to payments being made and I have actively worked with all parties to extend, as much as possible, milestone timeframes and requirements to meet the changing circumstances,” Mr Crewther said.
The Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, the Hon. Dr John McVeigh MP, has written in the last few days to Council requesting a proposal on the use of the $5.2 million Federal funding by the end of March 2018.
Mr Crewther noted, “The best option remains that FDBA and Council come to a lease agreement by the end of March, enabling our $5.2 million funding for basketball and co-utilised facilities to proceed at the current site, at Frankston Basketball Stadium.”
Without a lease agreement in place, Council are unable to proceed with the project on the current Frankston Basketball Stadium site.
Mr Crewther added “In his letter, the Minister has said that, if the project is unable to be delivered on the proposed site, another option is that Council consider submitting a proposal for an equivalent project on another site within Frankston City, that would substantially achieve the same outcomes as the original project.”
To achieve this, the project would need to be assessed by the Department and be subject to further approval by the Government.
“The final option is for the funds to return to the Commonwealth, which would mean $5.2 million in Federal funds being lost to our local area,” said Mr Crewther.
Minister McVeigh said that “Without a viable proposal, it will be difficult for the Commonwealth to continue to keep this funding available”.
The funding at stake is a significant amount, committed for the benefit of the basketball community in Dunkley during the 2015/16 financial year.
$4.95 million in Federal funding was approved to the Council for basketball and co-utilised facilities at the stadium at Bardia Avenue, Seaford, which was subsequently funded in the 2016 Federal Budget. A further $250,000 was then committed for retractable seating, bringing the total to $5.2 million.
“It is evident that the project would help solidify our local area as a regional hub for basketball, sporting facilities and sporting excellence,” said Mr Crewther.
Council and FDBA need to come to a lease agreement by Friday 30 March 2018, the date provided by the Minister, to enable a proposal by Council for the funds to proceed at the current site.
Mr Crewther said he was confident that that the local basketball community would benefit much more from the funding being used locally, rather than having the funds returned to the Commonwealth.
Mr Crewther has put out an online poll to gain community feedback on Council putting forward the other two proposal options, that funding be spent at another site or given back to the Commonwealth, should a lease agreement between FDBA and Council not be reached by the end of March.