LET there be light.
Horsham College’s main oval on Dimboola Road has operational lights after more than five years of planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.
A commitment to install lights at the ground was first made in 2008, when former state Sport and Recreation Minister James Merlino announced a $250,000 upgrade for the oval through a drought relief grant.
The money was to cover a new drainage and irrigation system, a drought tolerant grass playing surface, change rooms, cricket nets and lights.
Electricity supply and wiring for lighting was put in place when upgrade works commenced in 2009, but lights and change rooms were never installed.
Last year, Horsham Rural City Council endorsed Horsham College’s application for funding from the State Government’s Country Football and Netball Program to install lights at the oval.
Under the program, council was required to fund one third of the $90,000 cost.
Work to put the light towers in place finally started about six weeks ago, but wet weather delayed construction.
The lights do not meet requirements for competitive sport to be played on the oval at night, but are acceptable for training and other activities.
Horsham Rural City Council recreation and natural resources planner Steve Talbot said the lights were due to become operational last night.
Mr Talbot said the project was good news for Horsham-based sports clubs.
“The lights are well-suited for training purposes and it will open up the oval for a range of other uses and users,” he said.
“It has the potential to be an overflow oval in case others are overused, but that will be subject to a committee of management which is what we’re setting up at the moment.
“If sport and recreation is one of the ways we can encourage people to stay and live in Horsham, we’re happy to be contributing to that.”
“The lights are well-suited for training purposes and it will open up the oval for a range of other uses and users.''
Cr Pam Clarke voiced her support for the project when funding was announced in February last year.
She said lights at the oval could help ease demands on other venues such as Horsham City Oval, Coughlin Park and Dudley Cornell Park.
Horsham College acting principal Rob Pyers said the development of the oval was a win for the school as well as Horsham.
“It symbolises the school and the community working together, and it certainly reflects our commitment to working with the community to get the best facilities for them and the school,” he said.
“We’ve had some initial discussions with other sporting clubs about making further use of the oval.
“We’re hoping to work with any interested sporting groups, and particularly the council to ensure we’re part of their short and long term strategy.”
Mr Pyers said the college hoped to continue improving the oval.
“We’ve had some initial discussions with council in regard to further developing the oval,” he said.
“We’re hoping that whole area can be developed so there’s community use which also benefits the school.”