Willoughby Park’s oval 1 and Bales Park’s oval will both be upgraded with new natural turf, drainage and irrigation. The new turf is better suited to drought conditions and the irrigation means it can be better maintained. Both ovals will be closed this month and reopened after the upgrades in March, 2021. Sporting teams and regular hirers have been moved to other grounds. Here’s some more details on what’s planned:
Willoughby Park Oval 1
The sportsfield will be fenced off during construction. The children’s playground, Alan Hyslop Oval (No.2 Oval) cricket practice nets, and concrete pathway around the sportsfield will remain open during construction. The works include a new irrigation system, a larger underground tank to store irrigation water, a new drainage system, a laser-levelled surface, and new couch grass. The two synthetic cricket wickets will remain.
The sportsfield will be fenced off during construction. The children’s playground and concrete pathway around the sportsfield will remain open during construction. The works include a new irrigation system, a larger underground tank to store irrigation water, a new drainage system, a laser-levelled surface, new couch grass and a new turf wicket area.
Why are we doing this?
The heavy demand for use of our sportsfields means existing grounds are put under enormous strain. For this reason, it’s important to keep drainage, irrigation and oval surfaces in good condition.
Renewal of the ovals is identified in our Sportsgrounds Asset Management Plan. The plan details the rolling renewal program for sports.
The Willoughby Park and Bales Park projects were approved as part of the 2020/21 Operational Plan at the council meeting on Monday 27 July.
Both ovals have existing kikuyu grass. The first stage of the project is to remove this grass. A herbicide called Wipeout Bio will be used – not Roundup – to remove the old grass. Wipeout Bio is approved for use in Australia. We only use it as per the manufacturer’s directions.
Our use of any chemical (weedicide/ insecticide or fungicide) in the parks and reserves is sparing and targeted – and is the last resort where other control methods are not effective.
The initial spray at Bales Park was early this morning (7 August) and it was dry after two hours. The ovals can be safely used after drying. Officers were on site at Bales Park this morning and the spray was dry before the rain began.
The spraying only occurs on a calm day. It is sprayed from a 30 – 40cm height off the ground, meaning it’s directed so we can use the least amount possible.
Once the drainage and irrigation lines are installed, the ovals will have couch turf laid. This turf is more resilient in dry weather than kikuyu, and is generally more hardy and easier to maintain. All ovals that we have upgraded now have couch. For this process to work effectively, ie kikuyu to be replaced with couch, all kikuyu “runners” need to be removed and so spraying needs to occur.
The initial advice from our contractor was that the turf could be removed mechanically at Willoughby Park, but this advice has been revised. We need to spray on both sites. The next spray at both sites will be Monday 17th August. As there are no sport hirers using Willoughby Park after this date, the site will be fenced off prior to the spraying.
We undertake long term planning for our oval renewals, based on their condition and the number of facilities that can be out of use at any one time. Notification is given to sporting hirers more than 6 months in advance, to assist with their own planning. Council officers work closely with hirers to ensure sporting teams can move to other grounds. This work has been underway for both Willoughby and Bales ovals since before COVID.