May 16th 2008
Recreation Centre to stay open but on trial
Magnetic Island Active Recreation Centre has been given a chance to remain open, after the Government today confirmed it will continue to operate the Centre on a trial basis for a further 18 months.
In a presss release issued by Sport Minister Judy Spence, the Minister said major changes will be made to its operating structure - including new activities and programs, improved marketing and minor works - to try to keep it open.
"The simple fact is the Centre has been unviable. It has an annual occupancy rate under 20 per cent. It is costing taxpayers more than $328,000 per annum to keep open, yet returning less than $64,000 in generated revenue," Ms Spence said.
"The Member for Townsville Mike Reynolds has made very strong representations to keep the Centre open and has stressed the high usage by schools and other community groups across Townsville.
"Member for Mt Isa Betty Kiernan has also had strong concerns about the closure of the Centre because Magnetic Island has been the favoured recreational centre for rural and remote students.
"The Centre will remain open until the 31 December 2009, to see if usage rates improve.
"The future of the Centre is now in the hands of the local community. It's as simple as use it or lose it.
"The Centre will now introduce a Stay and Play Program, which will include overnight accommodation and daily activities organised by the clients and supported by centre staff.
Minor facility works will be undertaken to resurface the tennis courts. The pilot will also see the introduction of new activities to maximise use of the centre grounds and facilities such as fishing, kite building, beach games and court sports.
"The Government will also develop a comprehensive marketing plan to support the proposed trial.
"We have granted this Centre a reprieve and are hopeful these measures will improve its financial position, but we are ever mindful that if the Centre can not attract clientele we will not continue to spend taxpayers' money on supporting it.
"That's why we are trialling this initiative and will conduct a thorough evaluation of the Centre's viability once the trial has concluded.
"The Service Delivery Performance Commission (SDPC) report recommended the Department consider alternative management options for the Magnetic Island Centre and also recommended the immediate divestment of the Christmas Creek, Ficks Crossing, Lake Julius, Seaforth and Storm King Dam Active Recreation Centres," Ms Spence said.
Magnetic Times is presently seeking to clarify in greater detail just what the new approaches will include and how they might work to generate greater income than the camp's present operations and expect to report further on this as information comes to hand.
To learn about the camp it is worth visiting their page at the Department's web site at http://www.sportrec.qld.gov.au/magnetic_island.cfm then open the brochure.
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