MOVES to build a motel on Tamworth’s premier sportsground passed a critical hurdle after councillors paved the way for Wests Leagues to secure a new 25-year lease for Scully Park No. 2.
Wests, the long-standing caretaker of the ground, is on the brink of lodging a development application for a 152-room motel and function centre for the neighbouring Scully Park No. 1.
The club’s board has promised to redevelop Scully Park No. 2 into a better facility than Scully No. 1 if the DA is approved.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting councillors gave the go ahead for mayor Col Murray and general manager Paul Bennett to start negotiations with Wests for a new lease over Scully Park No. 2.
Wests has maintained and managed the oval at no cost to council while providing ongoing general use by the community since the most recent lease ended in 1999.
However, the club requested council enter into a formal lease to provide them with security of tenure in light of its proposal to upgrade the playing surface and establish a new $1.5 million 700-seat grandstand.
Ten sporting groups used the oval in 2013, covering Australian rules, rugby union, rugby league and cricket.
However, the turf wicket will not be replaced during the proposed works, which will transform the ground to a rectangular shapel.
Deputy mayor Russell Webb and councillors Helen Tickle and Tim Coates spoke in support of the proposed lease.
“It’s good for Tamworth,” Cr Webb said.
“It gives Tamworth an opportunity to have a football stadium council cannot afford.”
Cr Tickle described the proposal as “a positive way forward” and said the improved playing surface and grandstand were “something Tamworth really needs”.
Cr Coates said the proposed lease would “formalise something which has been going on informally for more than 15 years” and provide a quality facility for community use without additional financial costs to council.
While the proposed commercial terms of the lease were discussed in closed council, the open report said the “requested terms reflect the lease terms between council and other football clubs established on council-owned land in the city of Tamworth”.
The lease, if approved by council, will contain a clause that any capital improvements on the land will vest in the absolute ownership of council when the lease ends.
The lease will also give council the right to direct the lessee to remove the capital improvements at no cost to the lessor if that is the preference of council when the lease ends.
The report said Wests will agree to “ongoing community use of the facility at no cost”.