AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) is extremely disappointed with tonight’s decision by Darwin City Council to once again further delay final approval on the installation of lights at Gardens Oval.
AFLNT and NT Cricket are now being asked to repeat steps they have already undertaken in 2016 and again in 2017.
The resolutions passed at tonight’s meeting included:
- That a further report be presented to Council on alternative options for the lights at Gardens Oval One
- That a further report be presented to Council outlining the ongoing operational and maintenance costs of lights at Gardens Oval One
AFLNT CEO Stuart Totham said he was extremely surprised by tonight's outcome and at a loss to describe the Darwin City Council’s indecisiveness and failure to support a project that has such strong community support.
“This decision is a real surprise. We have done all the Council has asked of us and for them not to proceed at this point in time is hard to understand.
“A little over 12 months ago we began the community consultation phase of the Gardens Lights project, this consultation was extensive, ran over eight weeks, cost AFLNT & NT Cricket more than $50,000 and resulted in 94% of 392 respondents supporting the project.
“Add to this the 1,300 people who signed our online petition over the past five days, and it’s clear our elected representatives are ignoring the people of Darwin.
“Council’s first point about alternative lighting options is a path we have already been down. On the 2nd of May last year we underwent a very detailed and robust council workshop where we were grilled on the difference between LED and HID lighting technology. We answered all their questions based on expert advice we received from electrical engineers. We detailed the cost benefits, the proven cyclone-proof structures, the added benefits to the environment, the overall aesthetics and improved residential ambience by going down the HID path. The professional advice was clear. This information was then tabled to Council and accepted at a subsequent meeting in October that year,” Totham said.
On the costs point, Totham explained the work AFLNT and NT Cricket had done in conjunction with the Northern Territory Government (NTG) to ensure there was a bright future for junior and female participation across both sports.
“Council has not only been presented with a cost breakdown of the running of the lights under each of the different scenarios (lux levels), but they were also provided with an independent quantity surveyor estimate for the construction and installation of the lights. Further to this, the NTG has committed $3.5 million to City of Darwin for the lighting of sports ovals in 2017/18 and 2018/19 under the Urban and Regional Oval Lights Program. The ongoing maintenance is a matter for the City of Darwin, as with all assets on their land they would be responsible for this under a normal operating arrangement.”
"The Council's failure to listen to the people of Darwin and delay in their decision is putting the continuing growth of our sports in doubt. As we all know, sports and the outdoor lifestyle are values held close to Territorians' hearts.
“I call on the Council to stop delaying this vital project and let’s get the lights up and running before the start of the next NTFL season so our kids can train and play in the evening, avoiding the heat of the day and so that we can add some further flexibility in our fixture that will allow parents and volunteers not to have to prepare for 7:30am game starts.
“We will do further work to table the information that has been requested of us for the next Council meeting on 26 June. I am hopeful that the Darwin City Council will stand by their policy to ‘build a community with second-to-none infrastructure and community services’. If not we will be forced to work with NT Cricket and with the NTG to look at alternative uses for the funding the NTG have so generously committed to,” he said.
AFLNT will now work closely with NT Cricket and the City of Darwin officers to prepare the requested documentation for the 2nd Ordinary Council meeting in a fortnight’s time.
Supporters of the Gardens Oval lights project are still encouraged to jump online and sign the petition here.