In 2002 the City of Mitcham signed a Heads of Agreement with the Minister for Education to build a new Community Recreation Centre on the site of Blackwood High School. The centre was to replace the existing centre on Coromandel Parade that was no longer meeting the needs of the community. Blackwood High School would be granted the use of one of the two basketball courts to use during the school day to present its PE & Health curriculum.
Funding was sourced from the State and Federal Governments, City of Mitcham (through the sale of the old Recreation centre) and the Community. Council oversaw the design and completion of the building and the new Centre opened in February 2004.
The Centre is operated by the Blackwood Community Recreation Association Inc (BCRAI) through a volunteer Board of Management that oversees the operation of the Centre, which is managed on a day-to-day basis by a team of paid administration staff.
The original Heads of Agreement became a 15-year lease (with 3 automatic rights of renewal) between the Dept for Education and the City of Mitcham, who in turn sub-leased the Recreation Centre to the BRAI on the same terms. The first 15-year term of the Underlease expired in February 2019.
For the past three years, BCRAI has been seeking to renew the Underlease with the City of Mitcham. Unfortunately, a majority of Mitcham Councillors (7 votes to 6) rejected our request at the Council meeting held on 24th August 2021.
Automatic Underlease renewal
In October 2018, the Board voted to renew the Underlease and clarify maintenance responsibilities. In accordance with the Underlease, the BCRAI wrote to Mitcham Council expressing its desire to renegotiate a new 15-year Underlease and resolve the maintenance issues.
It has recently come to light that because our letter did not explicitly request the renewal of the Underlease on the same terms and conditions as the original Underlease, we did not meet the required terms for an automatic right of renewal.
Council administration has been instructed to approach the Department for Education and request they enter into a lease directly with the BCRAI. We anticipate that the Department for Education will reject this request, as they have done on two previous occasions because community services are not their core business and is the responsibility of local government.
How can you help
Right now, we need our community to continue to lobby the elected members and the Minister for Education so that Mitcham Council accepts on-going responsibility for the Community Recreation Centre and enters into a new 15-year Underlease with the BCRAI. If BCRAI has an Underlease on the building, the long-term future of the services we provide for the community can be secured.
It would be greatly appreciated if you would email the Minister for Education at firstname.lastname@example.org and City of Mitcham Councillors at:- email@example.com to express your concern about the potential loss of community services and to urge them to vote for a long term Underlease with the BCRAI.
To help you help us, we have created a message which you can send as is or personalise as you wish.
I use the Blackwood Recreation Centre and highly value the community, sporting and fitness services it provides.
The Centre has been delivering services to communities across the City of Mitcham and neighbouring Council areas for more than 100 years, and I would like to see that continue.
Blackwood Recreation Centre needs a new underlease for a secure future and to continue investing in and delivering community services for Mitcham Council, its ratepayers and other stakeholders.
I want the City of Mitcham to renew its underlease with Blackwood Recreation Centre for a further 15 years and renew its Headlease on the Centre with the Department for Education as a matter of urgency.