Willoughby City Council has scooped a prestigious national award for women in local government for the major redevelopment of Gore Hill Park at St Leonards.
Council was awarded The Susan Grace Benny Award—Women in Local Government and Community for the secondment and professional development of project manager Holly Cowdery who took the $10.5 million Gore Hill Park project from infancy to finalisation over two years.
The Award recognises local governments that have demonstrated a commitment to boost the participation of women in community decision making and management.
Ms Cowdery, a landscape architect, was seconded to the role of project manager and mentored by Council’s planning and infrastructure director to develop her project management skills.
“It was a fantastic opportunity and one that provided many challenges and encouraged me to push my professional boundaries,” Ms Cowdery said.
Both Willoughby City Council’s female Mayor and General Manager said they were again proud of the acknowledgement of promoting women in local government and nurturing emerging talent.
Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said: “We have strong female leadership and a culture that encourages and builds talent, particularly in areas of Council that are traditionally male dominated.”
General Manager Debra Just said: “Holly took the project from its infancy to finalisation with professionalism and efficiency. She established excellent working relationships with stakeholders from local sporting groups, government departments and with contactors to deliver an amazing facility for our community.”
Ms Cowdery managed the entire project including budget, external contractors, selecting materials and trouble shooting. Council provided flexible working hours, additional training and mentoring.
Ms Cowdery is a landscape architect and project manager with 20 years’ experience in local government. She has amassed a diverse portfolio of work in playground and park design and construction, urban design, synthetic sports field construction and natural turf sports field renovation. Before working on Gore Hill, she managed the Chatswood High School synthetic field project.
The award is sponsored by the federal government’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities in partnership with the Australian Local Government Women’s Association.
In Willoughby City Council’s largest project of 2018-19, Gore Hill Park has become the jewel in the crown of the lower north shore’s sporting community, with a new synthetic oval, walking track, function room and large scale playground.
Construction started in November 2017 and was finished in March 2019. Gore Hill Park was funded $9.5 million by the Australian Government and $1 million from Council.
Gore Hill Park is at the corner of Reserve Road and Pacific Highway, St Leonards, and has been used as a sporting field for over 90 years.