Wagga City Council is hopeful that demolition work could commence at the dormant Jim Elphick Tennis Centre as soon as next month.
The update comes after frustration has been raised from the Wagga Tennis Association (WTA) regarding a lack of communication and the fact their primary facility has been left untouched for the past five months.
Staffing shortages and a decision to hold off on awarding a demolition tender have been listed as the major factors in the project falling behind its anticipated schedule.
Director of strategy and projects Phil McMurray provided an update on the project at Bolton Park saying that two tender submissions would be put to council at their next meeting on November 20 for approval.
"We've gone to market with our two tender components of the demolition and the design and construct of the new facility," McMurray said.
"Council is going to make a decision on the 20th of November and then hopefully all things going well there will be a contractor in place and the demolition will start pretty soon afterwards."
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The premier tennis facility has been sitting dormant since mid-May following the WTA's vacancy from the premises.
McMurray conceded that council had fallen a bit behind schedule revealing that they had made a decision to hold off on awarding a construction contract before knowing where they sat in terms of the design and construction aspect of the budget.
"We've got a contract that we put out to market for demolition and we've been sitting on them for about a month and a half," he said.
"What we didn't want to do is engage the demolition straight away and then go out to tender for the design and construction of the courts and clubhouse.
"If we were well short of budget and we'd demolished it then we'd look a bit silly."
McMurray also admitted that staffing shortages had played a part in the delay of the commencement of the project.
"There were some staff shortages here at council which probably put us back a couple of months," he said.
"Having project management staff available to put the tender specs together and all that sort of stuff.
"We'll take a hit on that and we've probably cost us a month because of staff shortages.
"We are probably a month and half through this tender phase and then a month before that with staffing shortages so we are probably two and half months behind where we initially intended to be.
"We intended to probably have the demolition done by this time but ultimately it's just where we sit at the moment."
One of the key staffing shortages Council faced was not having an adequately experienced project manager to take on the project.
McMurray said that Council had since engaged an external experienced project manager to get the project up and moving.
The development was originally announced as a $8.3 million project back in June 2022 which included significant contributions from the NSW Government ($5 million), Tennis NSW ($1.25 million) and Council ($1.97 million).
However an estimated 50 per cent increase in the cost of building materials and contracts is expected to see this figure increase.
WTA has been largely left in the dark in terms of regular updates regarding the development of their primary facility which has left president Michael Marien frustrated.
After having been in contact with Council following their vacancy of the Jim Elphick Tennis Centre in May, Marien said the WTA were then subject to no further updates in the period between July and early October.
Marien said it had been disappointing to be left clueless as to how the project was proceeding and he was frustrated by the lack of the communication.
"It has been," Marien said.
"Given we were promised there would be communication over the whole time and there hasn't been.
"So it's very disappointing and that's our biggest grievance that there hasn't been any communication.
"It makes us look silly when people come to us and say what's going on and I have to say that I don't know because no one has told us."
Adding to the frustration for Marien and the local tennis community is the fact that the complex has been left dormant for the past five months.
The facility and the courts have been left unmaintained since the WTA's vacancy in May and it frustrates Marien to see the current state of the complex.
"It's a disgrace that it's been left like that and it looks terrible," he said.
"The fact that we could still be playing there is also very frustrating."
Despite having to soldier on without their primary facility, weekly senior and junior competitions have commenced for the upcoming season.
Marien praised the efforts of junior and senior competition coordinator Matt Hort for his efforts in relocating to smaller facilities around the city so those competitions could still be played over the 2023-24 season.
"He's done a great job with getting Hopwood Park going," he said.
"Our comps have started with reduced numbers and are continuing.
"At Bolton Park we would have probably 50 players on a Wednesday night but now because there are only six courts at Hopwood Park we're down to 24.
"So the comps are continuing but on a much lower number because of the restricted number of courts that we can access."
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