Community sport clubs driving residents mad
A surge in council and State Government upgrades for community sports clubs, and booming demand for children's and women's competitions, is pitting residents against each other.
Council is developing 11 sport and recreation precinct plans, including at Cubberla Creek Reserve at Kenmore, which sparked concerns in December when many locals first heard about it.
A separate, bold expansion planned by GPS Rugby Club (Jeeps) and Valley District Cricket Club at Ashgrove has also stirred up a hornet's nest.
And the latest upgrade, a State Government grant for improved lighting at Western Districts Netball Association (WDNA) at Graceville, approved just before Christmas with work starting last week, has angered neighbours.
WDNA said the lights would actually be an improvement and it had worked hard to minimise impacts on neighbours, but they're still upset.
"It's Australia, we all love sport. No-one wants netball to go away,'' a WDNA neighbour said. "It just needs to be on a reasonable scale.''
"Like everyone else, we did our due diligence when we bought here a decade ago.
"We knew the club was here, but we had no idea it was going to grow like this.
"There are now 3000 members and the season is 33 weeks of the year, with training or games Monday to Saturday.
"It was never approved for that and Council has not upgraded traffic lights, widened roads or parking in all of that time.
"We had teams training at 6am last weekend and they were told by some residents to move on.
"The WDNA cannot manage these teams as there are so many and they just do what they want and what obviously suits them.
"It shouldn't be up to the residents to manage them but the council and WDNA have set no rules and there has been no impact assessment done or required.''
The resident, who did not wish to be named, said there were only five on-site carparks and parents often parked over driveways.
there were concerned children were at risk when they got out of cars and crossed the streets because of the congestion, poor sightlines due to parked cars and lack of speed restrictions.
Narrow streets, including between Leybourne and Richardson streets, but other small streets as well, were so clogged on Saturdays he feared emergency vehicles would not be able to get in.
"The noise from the whistles is another big problem: they go off constantly on a Saturday,'' he said.
The resident said birthday parties and other social activities were also affected and there had even been occasions when neighbours had been mowing and car owners confronted them because grass had blown on their cars.
WDNA said it provided a valuable community service.
"We encourage participation in sport for players, from five years to adults, with the vast majority of our members being young girls and women (right through to their 60s),'' a spokeswoman said.
"At the grassroots level, we provide programs and development opportunities for players with a range of abilities.
"We have an All Abilities team playing in our Social Night Season competition and are flexible with program delivery to ensure the needs of these players are met.
"In recent years we have invested in our volunteers by developing the capacity of our coaches and umpires to ensure the best possible service is provided to our players.
"The rewards of this focus have been apparent with WDNA players, coaches and umpires moving through the elite pathways and representing their state and country.''
She conceded parking was a problem but the association worked hard to try to minimise illegal parking.
"We are aware that our operations impact our neighbours and endeavour to keep this impact to a minimum while still providing quality programs and competitions to our members,'' she said.
"We communicate regularly with our members asking them to be respectful of neighbours' driveways when parking.
"If residents have specific concerns regarding a parked car blocking their driveway, we announce the registration plate over our PA system asking the owner to move the vehicle immediately.
"We also encourage residents to call council and/or the police if the car is not moved.
"We advise council prior to our season starting and encourage them to be in attendance to book cars that have parked illegally.''
The spokeswoman also conceded whistles were a problem, but WDNA limited games where whistles were blown more frequently to Saturdays and Monday nights.
"Recent changes to netball rules have seen a reduction in the number of times a whistle is blown, that is, a whistle is no longer required when a goal is scored or when the ball goes out of court,'' she said.
"The additional lights may decrease the number of hours that whistles are blown during the Monday Night Competition as we will be able to hold all our games in two rounds, rather than the current three.
"Clubs train at the grounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons/evenings but whistles are much less frequent during training.''
She said there was a perception among neighbours that they had grown significantly, but current membership (2866) was lower than five years ago and regular season fixtures ran for only 17 weeks.
During carnivals cars could park on grassed areas near the courts and it was happy to work with Council to extend that to Saturdays.
"We're aware our operations impact neighbours and endeavour to keep this impact to a minimum, while still providing a quality program and competitions,'' she said.
Councillor Nicole Johnston (Tennyson) said the game was "hugely popular locally and (WDNA) have been there for 45 years and are still growing''.
"But it (growth) has adverse impacts for residents who live immediately around the courts,'' she said.
"It is disappointing some visitors to Graceville forget to be respectful of residents living around the courts, particularly when it comes to illegal parking and noise.
"It's a constant battle to get the balance right for residents and our community."
A Council spokeswoman said WDNA was a popular local sporting facility and had previously obtained development approval from Council to upgrade their facilities.
"All submissions on development applications are taken into account and the concerns of local residents were carefully considered during the assessment process,'' she said.
"The light spill from the proposed new poles satisfied requirements.
"As a condition of approval, Council will requires the Western District Netball Association to obtain certification that the lights comply with Australian standards.
"Council regularly responds to complaints from residents in relation to noncompliance with parking regulations when reported.''