Boroondara Budget Scraps Tuck Stand
UPDATE 13 July 2020:
This article was published 8 July. Since then, more information has become available. The proposed City of Boroondara 2020-21 budget is no longer scheduled for adoption at the Council Meeting on 13 July 2020.
On 1 June 2020, the City of Boroondara presented its proposed 2020-21 budget. Council accepted community feedback on the proposed budget for one month and the budget is scheduled for adoption at a council meeting on 13 July.
The City of Boroondara explains that the 2020-21 council budget has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and bears the brunt of the City of Boroondara's $4.5 million support and relief package. The budget projects a $5.43 million deficit for the year. As a result, some funds have been reallocated and plans pertinent to Glenferrie Hawthorn postponed.
The Glenferrie Placemaking Project was introduced in the 2019-20 budget, a major project to improve the precinct and devise the Glenferrie Road Place Plan expected to be released by early 2021. The 2019-20 budget projected an expenditure of $2.6 million over three years for the Glenferrie Placemaking Project, which has now been reduced by approximately $950,000. The City of Boroondara explained that the funds have been reallocated to the general Placemaking Coordination budget.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the Glenferrie community has been the 2020-21 budget's abandonment of refurbishment works on the Michael Tuck Stand (Tuck Stand), which would reinvigorate and better utilise the Glenferrie Oval for local sport. The 2019-20 council budget projected $6.7 million expenditure over four years toward the refurbishment of the Tuck Stand, with community consultation set to begin in 2020 and construction expected to commence in 2021-2022. The proposed budget for 2020-21 no longer includes refurbishment works for the Tuck Stand at all.
The Michael Tuck Stand at Glenferrie Oval.
Council explained that the redevelopment of the Tuck Stand has been postponed due to COVID-19 and "to ensure a sustainable budget". Council now intends to commence community consultation and design in 2025-26, pushed back five years, with construction completed by 2027-28. Plans to upgrade the Tuck Stand were first outlined in the Glenferrie Oval, Grace Park and L.E. Bray Reserve Concept Master Plan in 2009.
The decision to push refurbishment works on the Tuck Stand so far into the future came as an "incredibly disappointing" shock to the Hawthorn Amateur Football Club (HAFC). For many years, HAFC have looked forward to returning to Glenferrie to train and play once the famous grandstand undergoes necessary upgrades to accommodate the club. Pat Clancey, HAFC General Manager and former president 2015-2019, said that while they understand the massive impact of COVID-19, the postponement "seems really excessive". As registered interested parties on the major project of the Tuck Stand, the football club did not receive any correspondence from council regarding a change in plans. "The lack of information being shared with us is really disappointing," he said.
This is a sentiment that is shared by the Grace Park Residents Association. "This is a major change to what we have patiently been waiting for years ... Council officers appear to be telling councillors and the public, sorry, but after waiting for 11 years you will now have to wait for a further 8 years," said the President Rob Perkins. He also expressed disappointment with the change in direct funding for the Glenferrie Road Placemaking Project when Glenferrie Road is in "significant need of upgrade". As projects are abandoned, Rob wondered: "What confidence do we have in placemaking for Glenferrie if they don't honour their commitments to previous plans? ... Councillors should demand better performance of council officers in fulfilling commitments. Without this, credibility evaporates and so too does community participation."
Council reviews community feedback on the proposed budget at the same meeting it is scheduled to be adopted. "There is a limit to the extent of changes Council can make to an exhibited budget. Material changes cannot be made without advertising a new budget," said City of Boroondara. For Rob Perkins, this boils down simply to "Hey, this is the budget and we are not going to change it much no matter what you say". The City of Boroondara assures that all budget items are based on previously identified community needs and strategies, and recent changes to the budget are to sustain a long-term financial strategy.