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Council pickle over The Igloo

2/July/2021
The Igloo, Tully Show Grounds

TULLY Mission Beach Pickleball Inc. Members came away with more questions than answers following their attendance at a meeting organised by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, on the evening of Wednesday, June 30, to discuss ‘Asset Rationalisation’.

The fifteen Pickleball members present at the meeting, attended by around thirty people, were angered to learn that a decision had already been made on the future of ‘The Igloo’, aka Tully Showgrounds’ JP Byrne Indoor Sports Stadium, but that they could not be advised of the detail, because it has to be taken to the next Council meeting for a vote. They ask how this can be a ‘decision’ if the elected representatives of the rate payers have yet to vote on it?  And, if indeed, it has been decided, where is the transparency and why was there a need to go to the expense of engaging an external facilitator to chair the meeting?

Whilst the Association has not yet received formal written notification to vacate The Igloo, they were previously verbally advised that the date would be June 30, 2021 – the same day as the meeting to discuss ‘Asset Rationalisation’.

A further question raised by the President of the Tully Mission Beach Pickleball Inc., Edith Thomas, was why her Association had not been included in the list of organisations invited to the Meeting?  With many members in common, Pickleball players had heard of the meeting through the Tennis Club.  Those present assert that the body language of Council Representatives was less than welcoming when Pickleball members arrived and, on being pressed by the President, advised that the lack of invitation was [sic] ‘an oversight’. 

The Association alleges that the Council previously commissioned an enquiry regarding the future of ‘The Igloo’ and the report determined that it was an invaluable historic venue that should be maintained and cherished.  However, despite this finding, the Council determined that ‘The Igloo’ was in a class of buildings identified as part of its Asset Rationalisation Program.

An email received by the Association from Mr Peter McBride, Facilities Asset Manager at the Council, advised that [sic] The holding costs for Council to retain the Igloo sit at $54,920.00 per annum.  However, in the table directly below this statement, the sum of $40,170 is attributed to depreciation.  This is somewhat disingenuous as depreciation is an accounting allocation method, which adjusts the value of the asset, and is not money actually spent on the asset i.e., it is not a direct cost.  Indeed, Queensland Treasury’s advice, in its guide to Council employees and elected members, is that depreciation does not determine what a Council charges for the use of a facility.

It is also worth noting that the construction of ‘The Igloo’, on its original site, was funded by the Commonwealth Government and not the Council.

The actual annual expenditure of the CCRC on ‘The Igloo’, in accordance with its own table and minus the depreciation, is $14,750.  

Pickleball is a rapidly growing sport due to its low impact making it easier on the body and thus is accessible to a wide range of players.  It is a paddle sport that can be learnt in minutes and played for a lifetime.  It needs to be played on a hard surface to ensure that the ball can bounce.  

As Tully, the ‘wettest’ town in Australia, does not have an all-weather tennis court and the covered area is too small to play Pickleball, ‘The Igloo’, aka Tully Showgrounds’ JP Byrne Indoor Sports Stadium is an ideal venue, and one where Pickleball is currently played four times a week.  The Club share the facility with other uses, including (but not limited to) the gym and the Army.  And there are allegedly two other groups in the wings who would also like to use the facility if its future is secure.  

Tully Mission Beach Pickleball Inc. had 390 players attending The Igloo to play Pickleball in the last three months, that is a significant and growing number of local residents who will be less than pleased at having an ideal venue taken from them under the guise of ‘rationalisation’.

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