FIELD OF DREAMS: Albert Park in Lismore could become a world-class baseball facility.
FIELD OF DREAMS: Albert Park in Lismore could become a world-class baseball facility. Baseball Australia

Council wishlist: Top four ‘shovel ready’ projects

HOW DO you like the idea of a water play park to replace the under-used sports fieldsnear Lismore Shopping Square? Maybe an international baseball facility is high on your agenda? Or perhaps you are blinkered about giving the Pacific Hwy upgrade a push along.

Tonight councillors will hear staff recommendations for their wishlist of Lismore projects, required for potential state and federal government funding opportunities. All four "shovel-ready" projects should be able to be of "regional importance" and are couched in terms of "jobs and growth" potential.

The council wishlist has come about because Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers has informed councils all projects likely to be proposed for future funding opportunities must first be identified in RDA Northern River's Regional Plan.

These are the projects council staff are recommending for inclusion in the revised Northern Rivers RDA Strategic Plan:

1. Albert Park upgrade

A WORLD-CLASS facility in Lismore would see Albert Park become Baseball Australia's premier complex and place the city on the world stage as a baseball hub.

An upgraded facility would inject more than $9 million into Lismore's economy every year.

Last month Major League Baseball officials inspected the facilities with an eye to establishing training camps for international development programs.

Lismore City Council's tourism and events manager, Mitch Lowe, said it was exciting news, with a $4.47 million upgrade currently being considered by the State Government.

Baseball Australia stated it would commit to hosting key national events, international training camps and national team activities in Lismore for at least five years if the upgrade is funded.

2. Bruxner Hwy works

LISMORE has a lot to gain from the government meeting its 2020 deadline for the duplication of the Pacific Hwy.

With major investments to duplicate the highway and widening works and upgrades to the Bruxner Hwy, the plan ensures Northern Rivers region residents will have better connections to jobs, study and town centres.

3. Lismore Park redevelopment

COULD it be Lismore's version of New York's Central Park? The $10m Lismore Park will be the city's major green space between the CBD, Lismore Shopping Square and the health precinct. It has the potential to become an iconic destination and recreational zone. The park master plan features a pedestrian boulevard and landscaped terraces.

It aims to naturalise Browns Creek (from its current incarnation as a concrete canal) and clean up the water before it enters Richmond River. There may be an area for bands and outdoor music events.

But the feature which sparks the most citizen interest is its potential for including a water play park. Think children squealing with delight as they frolic in fountains and have giant buckets of water tipped from above.

The potential for a water play park has been recommended by council staff as a cheaper alternative to resurrecting the Lismore lake Pool.

4. Oakes Oval upgrade

The sporting facility upgrade was promised by Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan in the lead up to the recent election, but council is committed to prioritising the project as the government has not yet set a time frame.

Last month, Mr Hogan promised his re-elected government would contribute $1.4 million to the project.

The $3 million upgrade will help the grounds become northern New South Wales premier sports facility, capable of hosting premiership AFL, rugby league, soccer, and rugby union matches.

This is a big-ticket redevelopment project, involving an extension of the grandstand roof cover, expanding the on-field playing area to boost spectator capacity and make it suitable for AFL games, replacing the ground's change rooms and toilet facilities and installing a new electronic scoreboard.

High standard of application

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said although many "shed a lot of tears" when the Lismore Gallery plan was knocked back for the RDA funding round in 2013, its time did come, and the region had been "very fortunate" with state and federal government funding.

"We've had fantastic feedback regarding our applications which are of the highest standard. The fact that we have an Imagine Lismore Plan that sets down what we wanted to achieve adds to our likelihood of success. It sends the message that these projects are not just dreamt up," she said.