By Mikayla van Loon
After six years, the planning application for an upgraded sports and community hub at Mount Evelyn Recreation Reserve was unanimously approved by Yarra Ranges Council on 8 June.
Mount Evelyn Sports and Community Hub (MESCH) president Bryan McCarthy said getting to this stage started in 2015 after the Mount Evelyn Recreation Reserve Master Plan was finalised.
“We’re really appreciative of the support the council has provided in approving it and that unanimous support was really pleasing to us, that they could see the value of what the hub’s going to do for the community and support it in the way that they have,” Mr McCarthy said.
“It’s not just something that happens over night, it’s a long journey, it’s several years.”
An objection was placed by the Mount Evelyn Environment Protection and Progress Association in regards to the loss of vegetation due to the CFA BAL rating which was taken under consideration by the council.
Councillor Tim Heenan spoke to the motion and urged his fellow councillors to approve the application because of the community need for such a facility.
“The people involved, in volunteering and being part of the football, netball club deserve much, much better than what they’ve had for a long time,” he said.
Mr McCarthy couldn’t agree more and said the current building was old and dilapidated, not meeting current AFL requirements.
“The change rooms were small and non compliant with the current expectations of having male and female requirements for change rooms. So we just didn’t have the capacity to have female teams as well as the male teams,” he said.
The new $5 million two storey building received funding from State and Federal governments, as well as Yarra Ranges Council.
It will include a gym, appropriate change rooms, meeting rooms, an industrial kitchen and function space.
“The finish and the style of the building, we don’t just want to reflect the $5 million investment, it gives us the opportunity to provide a community facility that the community of Mount Evelyn can be really proud of and somewhere they want to go and something they want to use,” Mr McCarthy said.
As much as the new hub is for the clubs and teams, Mr McCarthy said MESCH hopes the general community can also find value in the facility for their own events.
“Clubs are trying to promote that real family atmosphere within the clubs and within the teams, it’s not just about the teams and playing games, it’s about bringing their family and friends together,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said Mount Evelyn Football/Netball Club, Mount Evelyn Junior Football Club and Mount Evelyn Cricket Club were committed to working together to achieve the best outcome possible.
The support of local businesses including Bendigo Bank and Professionals Real Estate in Mount Evelyn has also been instrumental in getting this application approved, Mr McCarthy said.
Demolition will begin in late July and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year but a confirmed completion date will be provided with the appointment of a builder.
But before the building is gone, Mr McCarthy said the clubs will host a ‘last drinks’ to reminisce about the old building and celebrate the new one.