A STAND-OFF between the city’s sporting organisations and council is threatening to keep run-down facilities at Dalton Park in a perpetual state of disrepair.
Every year, council spends about $50,000 on maintenance, utilities and insurance at the equine sports facility but the four sporting clubs that use it are begging for more.
Through council’s Dalton Park management committee, the clubs have asked for upgrades to the various buildings on site as well as the mounting enclosure, track and toilets.
But council has argued it doesn’t have the funds to complete major work on a facility that only hosts two public events per year.
Griffith Harness Racing Club secretary Denis Conroy believed council’s refusal to contribute additional funding restricted the facility from accommodating other activities.
“If I was a councillor and had had a look at the state of the toilet block and the occupational health and safety issues emanating from it, I would be very concerned,” Mr Conroy said.
“The clubs have already put in a lot to keep the amenities functional and I think it’s time council started looking at developing the facility rather than being so negative about it.
“Council was very much behind the move to have racing facilities out at Dalton Park, so they should be just as willing to put their hands up and spend the money there.”
Griffith Jockey Club, Griffith Pony Club and Griffith/Leeton Riding for the Disabled (RDA) also use Dalton Park regularly.
All four clubs are charged lease and event fees, while private users of the facilities, including the stables, also pay lease fees to council.
Over the past two years, the fees have amounted to more than $18,000 in income for council.
Councillor Allan Bennett, who was on the Dalton Park committee until 1999, has been vocal in opposing an increase in funding of the facility.
He argued that Griffith Golf Club took responsibility for its own amenities and Dalton Park should be treated no differently.
“I don’t think we should be putting pressure on our own budget – if those four clubs want to improve their facilities then they should pay for it,” Cr Bennett said.
“If the golf club had this attitude, we would still be putting on sand greens and meeting in a tent.”
Like the golf club, Dalton Park is on Crown land with council as its trustee.
Management committee chairman Cr Doug Curran said any upgrade to the grounds would lead to ongoing maintenance costs that council would have to factor in to upcoming budgets.
In February, council refused a request from Griffith RDA and the jockey club to build a disabled toilet at Dalton Park, suggesting it would be more cost effective to hire a portable toilet for major events.