Bruce MacKenzie and Cr Ken Jordan take aim at Port Stephens Council over 'inadequate' croquet court clubhouse

HAPPIER TIMES: Former Port Stephens councillor Josh Hodges with recently re-elected Cr Ken Jordan.
HAPPIER TIMES: Former Port Stephens councillor Josh Hodges with recently re-elected Cr Ken Jordan.

'Like a dog kennel' is how the former mayor Bruce Mackenzie and west ward councillor Ken Jordan have described a new Colorbond croquet clubhouse at Raymond Terrace.

The 10m by 3m facility at Boomerang Park will service the recently-finished eight-player court and will include a 3m deep deck with chairs and umbrellas.

The council staff has defended the scale of the final plan, appropriate for the size of the court and budget, but neither Cr Jordan or Mr MacKenzie would have a bar of it.

"It's only fit for a dog kennel, it wants picking up and taking to Williamtown dog pound," Mr MacKenzie said.

The council approved a $6 million loan in 2017 to fund a range of projects from the extension of Yacaaba Street in Nelson Bay to the croquet court facilities.

FUMING: Bruce MacKenzie said it was a dog kennel.

FUMING: Bruce MacKenzie said it was a dog kennel.

"I had councillors having a go at me for allocating $300,000 in my $6 million and I said 'no, there's going to be a decent building there' but this isn't decent, it's an overgrown dog kennel," Mr MacKenzie said.

Mr MacKenzie and Cr Jordan both expressed concern with the centre section of the clubhouse which has been designed to include kitchenette facilities. Mr MacKenzie said it would no sooner be full with "six people and a blue dog inside".

Mr MacKenzie said a prefabricated building, at least 50 per cent bigger, would have been better.

"We looked at a nice building at Heatherbrae which would have been ideal," he said. "All we would have had to do is clad it in Weathertex [cladding], instead of this Colorbond."

It's the second time in as many months that Mr MacKenzie has weighed in on council business but he's vowed not to make it a habbit.

"This is my initiative so I can guarantee you if something comes up that I haven't been interested in, you won't hear from me," he said. 

"This I'm interested in because I've looked at buildings at the Central coast and at Heatherbare but we've come up with a building that's a garden shed-come-dog kennel and it's a disgrace."

His criticism of the cladding was at odds with comments last month that Colorbond was fine for park infrastructure when the nearby childcare centre used the same material.

When asked why he had supported the use of Colorbond then and not now, Mr MacKenzie said it was because "they were using that as an excuse for the hold up". 

"When we looked at the building down at Heatherbrae [with council staff]  they were worried about [heritage] and I said to them 'why can't you take [the colorbond] off and clad it with Weathertex?’"

The council spokesman said the chosen design was fit for purpose and site-appropriate.

"This was the most cost effective option," he said. 

"Other designs such as modular building suppliers and lightweight building construction techniques were explored, however these options exceeded the allowed project budget."

Cr Jordan said he was resigned to the clubhouse staying but he was not accepting of it.

"We've got a Rolls Royce of a Men’s Shed and we had so many compliments at [festival ]Illuminate on what we achieved but what we've got here is an absolute dunce of a croquet shed and it's got to be fixed," he said.

Cr Jordan agreed with Mr MacKenzie that it would take the addition of a west wing to fix the design, creating an 'L' shaped clubhouse. The council said it could be extended in the future if there was sufficient demand.

Cr Jordan said he was disapointed this was what it had come to. 

"They're going to have to [but] I hate add-ons... that was one thing we didn't want with the Men's Shed because I've seen 50 of them around the country with lean-to shelters and shipping containers everywhere," he said. 

"There's already 50 [croquet] members and before long it will be like the senior citizens, which went from 30 members before we built it to 300 members after. We've already forgotten this lesson."

Cr Jordan was also criticial of the design which would be an "ice box in winter" and an "oven in summer" with insufficient outdoor shade.

The council spokesman defended the design.

“We’re currently in the process of building a 3m deep wrap around timber deck and access ramp, which will be fit out with loose outdoor chairs and umbrellas to allow club members to sit and enjoy watching the croquet or take a break between games," he said.  

“The building has been designed with multiple windows and a sliding door leading onto the deck area. Cross ventilation and breezes will allow for cooling in the warmer months, while insulation is being installed to keep the building warm during the cooler months.”

Cr Jordan has since met with staff. He said he was hopeful a bigger awning would be built to provide users some relief on hot days.