Loss of iconic club would be huge
With reference to recent articles about the redevelopment of the Woy Woy Bowling Club site, I wish to add my own perspective as a long-term member of the club, a local resident, life member of the Men's Bowling Club and patron of both the Men's Bowling Club and the Club Limited.
The Club's financial woes began at the end of the last century when the board of directors embarked on a foolish and misguided renovation of the facilities.
At the time, the Club was a very profitable operation with more than $400,000 in the bank, no debt and a rent producing residence adjacent to the club.
Initially, the Westpac Bank knocked the club back for finance to undertake the redevelopment as the bank considered that the club would not be able to continue to trade profitably through the renovation period.
The board of directors then turned to St George Bank and presented a revised business plan which was embellished by an external consultant to show that the club could indeed continue to trade profitably as well as meet the cost of borrowings for the renovation.
This was a fanciful notion of course and the club was soon in deep financial trouble to such an extent that it was placed in receivership.
In the end, trade creditors were paid only a portion of what they were owed but of course St George Bank wanted the full amount it had lent the club for the redevelopment.
Despite many efforts to get another club involved to keep it going as a viable concern, vested interests at the time ensured that other clubs were turned away even if they registered interest in coming on board.
The upshot of all this was that the club was sold to Woy Woy Holdings for $2.3 million.
The receiver appointed by St George Bank turned the club back over to the members on January 1, 2003, and left the club with $20,000 in working capital.
Within one week, this amount had dwindled to $10,000, after wages and trade creditors had to be paid.
I know all this because I became chairman of the club in 2003 as we attempted to restore the club to some form of profitability.
Through luck, some careful management and strong support from our loyal members as well as the local community, the club still has its doors open today.
But who knows for how much longer?
It is a great credit to our members and supporters that we have kept the club going to this day.
The loss of this iconic club will be huge for the close-knit Woy Woy community and that is why local residents are so concerned about the proposed scale of the redevelopment.
The plan for a new social club within a large-scale residential complex and retail facility coupled with a fanciful underground synthetic bowling green will mean that the Woy Woy Men's and Women's Bowling Clubs will need to relocate to other bowling clubs on the Peninsula and the local community will lose a club that has functioned as a bowling club for 85 years.
As local residents have stated, we are not against the redevelopment of the site, but we all want a redevelopment that is compatible with and blends in with the local environment, adequately takes into account local traffic issues and adds to the social infrastructure of this wonderful part of the Peninsula which adjoins the heavily used boat ramp and Lions Park.
We hope that the planning authorities can deliver this effectively.
Email, 21 Nov 2017
Ken Dixon, Woy Woy