Oval upgrades at Willoughby Park and Bales Park

Published on 07 August 2020

Bales Park.jpg

Updated on 9 September 2020

What's happening?

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. Willoughby Park Oval 1 will be closed from Wednesday 9 September and Bales Park will be closed from Wednesday 30 September. Both ovals will reopen after the upgrades in March 2021, however we will aim to open them earlier if this Summer’s growing conditions allow the new turf and roots to establish well enough to cope with the high levels of use that the grounds receive. Sporting teams and regular hirers have been moved to other grounds.  Here are 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 (Oval 2) cricket practice nets, and concrete pathway around the sportsfield will remain open during construction. Please remember that dogs are not permitted off leash on Oval 2 during organised sports training and competition. There will be more sports bookings than normal on Oval 2 because of the works taking place on Oval 1. 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. 

Bales Park

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 and new couch grass. The two synthetic cricket wickets will remain.

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.

Herbicides

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 in the morning on Friday 7 August and it was dry after two hours. Officers were on site at Bales Park and the spray was dry before the rain began. The second spray at Bales Park was early in the morning on Monday 17 August and once again officers were on site to inform park users about the spraying. The third and final spray at Bales Park is currently scheduled for Thursday 17 September at 7.00am, although this date is subject to change.

The ovals can be safely used after drying which takes up to 2 hours, however, to exercise further caution, we have decided to keep users off the ovals for 4 hours after the spray.

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. Willoughby Park will be sprayed after the construction site fence is erected, which is anticipated for Wednesday 9 September (revised from mid-August) and twice more in the following weeks. 

Timeline

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.

We know that there was an increase in the use of our ovals for informal recreation during COVID. This use has eased as community sport has returned, and these sports ovals are once again being used by sports hirers. In addition, the easing of restrictions for gyms and indoor recreation facilities has meant many residents have returned to their pre COVID leisure pursuits.

Off leash areas

While Willoughby Park (oval 1) and Bales Park are closed, you may want to visit other off leash areas to walk your dog

Please note Willoughby Park Oval 2 is not affected and will remain open, as will the perimeter path around Oval 1. Please remember that dogs are not permitted off leash on Oval 2 during organised sports training and competition. There will be more sports bookings than normal on Oval 2 because of the works taking place on Oval 1.

Questions?

Please contact Julie Whitfield

julie.whifield@willoughby.nsw.gov.au or 9777 1000