THE Horsham community as a whole will benefit from a plan to upgrade the surface of the oval at Coughlin Park at the end of the year.
The plan was set in motion following the announcement of a grant from the Victorian government during the week.
Horsham Saints Cricket Club secretary Trent King was the driving force behind the grant application.
“It was quite an arduous task,” he said.
“There was a lot of information to get but the council was fantastic in its support in helping us get all of the required information for a successful application.
“We needed to fully scope the work and we engaged an external contractor to assist with that. We needed to contact all the key user groups to get their support and in some cases financial support if the project got up.”
The plan will see all the grass sprayed out, excluding the turf cricket wicket, following the football season before it gets ripped up.
The existing soil will then be treated, a new irrigation system will be installed and sub-surface drainage put into the ground on the western side of the oval.
“Water doesn’t drain freely on this oval, especially in winter,” King said.
“It just runs across the top and sits there and the oval turns to mud.
“The idea is to fix up the permeability so the water actually soaks in.
“There is some bad areas and we’ve allowed for that material to be removed and new material brought in but we can’t alter the level due to it being a flood area.”
All together the project is expected to cost $150,000.
The grant will cover $100,000 of the bill with the council, the Saints Football Netball Club, the Saints Cricket Club and St Brigid’s College covering the rest of the cost.
Horsham Rural City Council recreation and sustainability manager Rhonda McNeil said it was about ensuring the oval could continue to be used all year round.
“With cricket in particular because there is a turf wicket here,” she said.
“This location has multiple uses.
The school uses it, the Wimmera Whippets use it, junior and senior cricket, junior and senior football, as well as other community groups, because there is the tennis and bowls clubs right next door.”
The ground continues to service many clubs all year round as well as the neighbouring St Brigid’s College.
After a final was moved from the ground at the end of the 2016 season, new football club president Mick Morris said it would be a great benefit to the club.
“We’ve got premier facilities so having a premier surface here as well allows us to attract finals here,” he said.
“That allows us to generate a bigger income.”
Cricket club president Glenn Carroll said it was also a matter of safety.
“The quality of the grass lets the ground down,” he said.
“From a playing and safety perspective to be able to field the ball properly will make it so much better.”
King said it would be massive for the club.
“The main thing for us is the amount of water that we’ll need to use on the ground over summer,” he said.
“With the new irrigation system it will be a lot more water efficient because the old one is currently 20 years old and the current grass type requires a lot of water during summer.”
The plan will mean the cricket club will not be able to play on the ground until after the new year next season.
“It’s short-term pain for long-term gain,” King said.