Gladstone Bowls Club is another step closer to making big changes to the facility after the council granted it a 30-year lease.
Gladstone Bowls Club is another step closer to making big changes to the facility after the council granted it a 30-year lease. Julia Bartrim

Council locks in 30-year lease for iconic Gladstone club

IT WAS "the first small step" but another significant one for Gladstone Anzac Memorial, Bowls and Citizen Club after the club was yesterday granted a 30-year lease arrangement from Gladstone Regional Council.

But the club's ultimate goal of expanding and improving its facility still rests in the hands of the council, who are current trustees of the land.

Presenting a deputation on behalf of the club, chairman Graham McVean spoke of the need for the council to surrender its trusteeship over the lease to allow Gladstone Bowls Club to acquire tenure of the land from the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy.

If the club were to obtain freehold tenure, they would become eligible for the significant funding they need in order to expand their facility within the leased land.

The club wants to renovate its outdated premises over three stages totalling about $5.5 million and had previously been granted $500,000 from the Gladstone Foundation.

The club's previous 40-year lease expired in 2016 with a new 10-year lease granted.

On August 21 last year a new lease agreement was renegotiated, with council offering the club a 10-year plus 10-year plus 10-year lease.

At the time Mr McVean told The Observer that option was "no better than what we've got".

Armed with a clear vision for the club - to become one of Central Queensland's best - and improved financial figures over the past year as his ammunition, Mr McVean addressed the council supported by about 25 of the club's members and staff, who cheered when the decision was announced.

 

Concept drawings for a proposed multi-million dollar upgrade to the Gladstone Anzac Memorial Bowls & Citizens Club.
Concept drawings for a proposed multi-million dollar upgrade to the Gladstone Anzac Memorial Bowls & Citizens Club. BKD Designs

One concept for the improved facility would involve construction of a military museum in the image of a slouch hat, which has the approval of the Gladstone RSL Sub Branch.

"I am prepared to work with council to develop the idea further," Mr McVean said at the meeting.

"In doing that Gladstone Bowls Club Inc would be prepared to take responsibility for conditional ownership of both parcels of land taking in Anzac Park and the bowls club."

The club has plans for a dedicated room for veterans by building a second storey, improved deck space for alfresco dining, a new building entrance and overall improvement to the building and facilities in order to transform it into the 21st century.

 

Concept drawings for a proposed multi-million dollar upgrade to the Gladstone Anzac Memorial Bowls & Citizens Club.
Concept drawings for a proposed multi-million dollar upgrade to the Gladstone Anzac Memorial Bowls & Citizens Club. BKD Designs

Mr McVean also highlighted how the club has "increased its turnover from $180,000 to $670,000 in just 14 months".

"We're relieved that at last we've got a position in relation to acceptance of a 30-year lease and that assists us in finalising our $500,000 grant from the Gladstone Foundation, so for that we are grateful," he said.

"However it doesn't provide us with a solution for the further development of the club - we need to confidently apply for grants of about $5m.

"Our advice from the state and federal government is unless we've got tenure over the land we need not apply for any of that funding. We are grateful but this is the first small step."

GRC will now investigate alternative land tenure options to ensure the club is not restricted from accessing state and federal government grants and hand a report back at its September 17 meeting.