A FORMER long-serving director of West Tamworth League Club has warned the board it risks destroying the club if it proceeds with controversial plans to turn Scully Park No. 1 into a motel.
Jim Cox, whose board tenure included seven years as vice-president, said the club might never recover from the backlash he believes is building in opposition to the development.
On Saturday, The Leader revealed Wests Entertainment Group’s plans to build a $12 million motel complex on land occupied for more than half a century by Tamworth’s premier sports ground.
The development application, lodged last week with Tamworth Regional Council, provides for a three-storey, 54-room motel complete with pool, gym, function room and an enclosed walkway to the club.
The club has also sounded the council out about the possibility of purchasing Scully Park No. 2 and transforming it into a leading sporting facility.
Mr Cox said while it pained him to put good friendships on the line by criticising the board – especially one he had served on for so long – he felt too passionately to keep quiet.
“I can’t believe it – no one can believe it,” he said. “They’re going to be very sorry if they go ahead with the decision because of the backlash from the community.
“I don’t want to knock the club because I know what it does for the community, but they shouldn’t put themselves in a position where all the good that they’re doing could be taken away by one decision.”
Mr Cox said the proposal to relocate all Scully Park No. 1’s playing and training commitments to a revamped No. 2 oval was not a satisfactory alternative and would jeopardise the futures of a number of sporting clubs.
Tamworth resident Gary Chillingworth is another vocal critic of the plan, describing it as “abhorrent” and saying its mere consideration was an insult to those who had helped build the park.
He said his late parents, life members Ken and Joan Chillingworth, were among many who had devoted their lives to the club and would be appalled at the plans.
“I am opposed to the construction of any structure on Scully Park No. 1 oval as I know my parents, who gave their entire lives to the club, would be,” he said.
“I have absolutely no problem with the club building a motel, I have a major problem with them building it on the oval.
“Scully Park Oval is 56 years old. It stands as a monument to the resilience, efforts and dedication of the many volunteers who were involved in its construction.
“It should always remain as a physical testament to those selfless people and to the many sports people who have enjoyed the standard of the facility provided for so many years.”
But Wests’ chief executive officer Rod Laing said he could think of no better way of honouring the memories of the club’s pioneers than by ensuring it had a strong and prosperous future.
“Right now, Scully No. 1 is far from the ultimate,” he said. “And, a few years down the track, if left in its current state, it will virtually be a paddock with no use whatsoever – just a field of memories,” he said.
“No doubt, as any visionary would tell you, Ken Chillingworth would have had his detractors. He would have had people telling him it couldn’t be done. But did that stop him from realising his dreams?
“If he was here today, I believe he would be one of the first to say this club and these grounds cannot remain stagnant. They cannot be allowed to sink back into the swampland they once were.”