Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Swan Hill council votes to shut down drag strip

Swan Hill Rural City Council has voted to enforce the permanent closure of the Swan Hill Drag Strip.

Mayor, Stuart King said Council acknowledged the disappointment the decision would cause for both motorsport enthusiasts and the wider community – a disappointment that he says is shared by Council.

“We want to assure our residents that this decision was not reached lightly with Councillors, officers and the Swan Hill Drag Club members having worked tirelessly to assess options and determine if a feasible long-term solution could have been achieved.”

“We also received and considered a proposal developed by the Swan Hill Drag Club.

“Numerous options for the track’s future have been investigated including the potential of leasing, selling or gifting it to the Swan Hill Drag Club. However, based on all the available information, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the track, despite our best efforts and cooperation with the club,” the Mayor said.

He said the key issue with the facility related to the ongoing concerns of a high-risk activity and the potential ongoing associated costs to mitigate those risks.

Mayor King said Council had convened a meeting with the Swan Hill Drag Club’s executive members to provide an explanation for the decision.

He said the Council will be undertaking a strategic planning process for the Swan Hill Motorplex complex in the future.

The quarter mile drag strip was constructed in 2014, built by Council in partnership with the Swan Hill Drag Club.

Council says it embarked on the project “with the firm belief that the Drag Strip in Swan Hill would bring substantial benefits to the community, bolstering the local economy and tourism”.

Alongside the Swan Hill Drag Club, we were looking forward to the launch of the Swan Hill dragstrip in 2019, it said.

“Regrettably, during the construction phase, issues surfaced with the track, leading Council to incur additional costs to rectify and enhance the track and ensure its readiness for the Swan Hill Drag Club’s major Jambouree launch event.”

As 2019 approached, the track continued to face ongoing concerns regarding its condition.

“Consequently, in consultation with the Swan Hill Drag Club, the difficult decision was made to cancel these events. By 2020, it had become increasingly apparent that, despite our collaborative efforts, the track’s issues persisted.

“In light of the ongoing expenses and a lack of confidence in achieving a satisfactory track, Council resolved to discontinue further funding for the Drag Strip.”

The Council say sit has consistently maintained open communication with the Swan Hill Drag Club and explored various alternatives, including the possibility of revitalising the track.

“However, it became apparent that substantial community and ratepayer funding would be necessary, despite Council’s ongoing concerns about the track’s sustainability,” the Council said.

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