By Mitchell Clarke
Long awaited works to upgrade the Toomuc Recreation Reserve in Pakenham are expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in March 2021, after Cardinia Shire Council awarded a construction tender during their February council meeting.
The $6.3 million project – which received funding from all three levels of government – will see the site’s three pavilions and the little athletics building upgraded.
According to project plans, the northern pavilion will see the ground floor extended to include change rooms for both football and cricket clubs, as well as separate facilities for the netball club.
A renovated canteen, new first aid room, extra storage and a balcony extension on the upper level is also planned.
The southern pavilion will be upgraded to have accessible amenities and change rooms, public toilets, a first aid room, and an upgraded kitchen.
The baseball pavilion will include accessible toilets, a canteen, new umpire rooms and accessible ramps and paths, while the little athletics building upgrade is set to involve the refurbishment of the kitchen.
Federal La Trobe MP Jason Wood has previously described the current facilities as “ageing” and “totally unacceptable”.
“My first visit alongside budding netball players, I watched as about 100 young girls languished in torrential rain while waiting to get changed,” he recalled.
“The seniors club needs a major upgrade and renovations but the real eye-opener was the junior teams. They’ve got no showers, no facilities and it was bucketing down with rain. Once their training finished, they were lining up outside in the rain, waiting to get changed – and that is totally unacceptable.”
Mr Wood said, at the time, little athletics, cricket and baseball toilets weren’t operational and volunteers were forced to work out of a small shed.
“I vowed to secure federal funding and was very proud to have secured a massive $4.5 million. There will be a lot of excitement at the club, especially for the hard-working volunteers, parents and players who have put up with very bad facilities,” Mr Wood said.
Cardinia Shire Council mayor Brett Owen said Toomuc was a popular recreational facility, adding that sport and recreation were of “great importance” in the shire.
“These upgrades will cater to the growing needs of sporting groups and enhance accessibility for the large number of families who use the reserve,” he said.
Toomuc Ward councillor Stephanie Davies said the announcement was “welcome news” for clubs and residents alike.
“After the upgrade project, we expect Toomuc Reserve to be used even more by local sporting groups,” Cr Davies said.
“This project is a great example of what can be achieved when community groups, federal, state and local government collaborate and work together in genuine partnership.”
The Federal Government put $4.75 million towards the project, while Cardinia Shire Council and the State Government each funded $1.5 million and $50,000, respectively. Sport Australia also contributed $500,000.
In a social media statement, the Pakenham Lions Netball Club said they were “absolutely thrilled” for all clubs based out of the reserve.
“For our netty family, this is a game changer, in having facilities and amenities for the future,” the statement read.
The club will be forced to temporarily move to the James Bathe Recreation Reserve during construction.
“Although our preference is always to remain connected and stand proudly with the Pakenham Football Club, in this instance we will be at a seperate location but it will only be for a few months, before we are all home together again,” the statement added.