Monday, October 07, 2013

Are we to lose our tennis courts - Uniting Church Synod wants to sell them

from w

I was dismayed today to receive an email from a 'senior' in the Uniting Church to tell us that our local tennis courts in Denman Street have been marked for sale as part of the debt recovery of the Uniting Church in Victoria after a disastrous school building project - Acacia - went belly-up causing a debt of $53 million. The tennis courts are one minute's walk from our home in the East Geelong area and they are technically cared for by St Andrews Uniting Church, our neighbouring church. The courts once belonged to our East Geelong joint parish and before that Shenton Methodist over decades.

The decision of Synod to sell church property is to repay this debt though our local churches are run competently and with financial and property being cared for very well.  They also have targeted South Geelong Uniting church property which houses a welfare outlet. Many people will be grief-stricken as our tennis coaches are at present.

Our club has three courts, a landscaped garden and a clubhouse in a residential street. It is lively, growing, with new teams ready for summer, older players, young adults and children. It is a link between church and community. Three generations of our family have been involved in this club, even as President, team players, and our son won best player last season. Two new teams of Under 12 girls have enrolled, so what can we say to them?  The link between the Uniting church and youth and children these days is tenuous and the tennis club is certainly one fine link that already exists in East Geelong.

I expect the un-named committee targeted this property hoping to sell to a developer who will demolish the courts and build a few box-like units and we already have too many of them in this area.

I contacted three 'seniors' in the Uniting Church at head office, Presbytery and local level and they each responded that 'You can't do anything about the decision to sell it.'   I wonder if there is another way.  The Synod decision for the church to choose which properties to sell did say 'underutiliized properties'  so perhaps we can prove we are vital and viable. The photos are - some seniors who played social tennis Thursday October 10th,  two winners of the summer competition, and a group of players showing the mission of the church is to link with people in the community.

The photo is of of Neil who has coached juniors over three decades at the Denman Street tennis club. Here he is on a happier day than today!


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