Bowls Orewa: Fiddling under the Roof

Club News, News

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Tony Rickerby has become a bit of an expert on covering bowling greens.

Not because the President of Bowls Orewa is particularly clever. Or particularly fond of development challenges. But just because after the decision was made over two years ago to cover one of the greens, Tony is still in the throes of completing the project. He’s had 2 years of talking and breathing roof stuff.

And although Tony says that Orewa’s new roof over one of their artificial greens is nearing completion (target date is the end of March 2019), ground has only just been broken for the project. “The actual building of the roof will be the simple bit at the end of the project,” Tony smiles wryly.

Tony has spent a lot of time ‘roof-fiddling’. And he has become one of the go-to people in bowls who clubs contemplating covering their own greens should seek out. “It’s not that it’s rocket science,” says Tony, “but there’s a lot to consider.”

For most clubs, the first step is getting the club members to agree to spend anything north of $600,000 on a cover. “We went out to 4 vendors, and the first quotes came in at over a million,” recalls Tony. “That’s because we wanted the cover to extend out from the clubhouse over the current grass green. It became pretty obvious that covering one of our two artificial greens was a much cheaper, and therefore more realistic option.”

Accepting a final quote from Auckland-based Nova Shades, enabled them to take the next two steps – getting council permission for the project (Bowls Orewa leases council reserve); and tackling the grant providers and other benefactors. “It all went pretty smoothly, considering,” says Tony, “The council were very happy about the project, and the funds gradually came together.”

The first and only major hiccup came with building consent. “Someone at the Council must have been lying under an umbrella on a beach on a windy day,” laughs Tony. “and realised how easy these sails could take off in the wind we get being near the beachfront at Orewa.”

Concrete-reinforced steel anchor blocks originally specified at 2-metres x 2-metres had to be changed to huge 4-meter x 2-meter mainstays. Steel columns supporting the roof were specced up from 350mm to 750mm. The rafters had to be a lot stronger. “Needless to say, the original budget got torn up, and we were faced with a big cost overrun.”

But you don’t get to be a make-it-happen person like Tony Rickerby, and let things like budget blow-outs put a kibosh on things. “We found ways of working through the additional costs,” says Tony, “and now we’ll have a structure that survives the meanest hurricane or tsunami!”

There’s been other things Tony’s has had to bite his tongue about.

“I couldn’t quite see the need to hire a consultant to ensure the fire exits were okay, when you’ve got a completely opened-sided structure,” puzzles Tony. “And another consultant to make the roof didn’t interfere with the neighbours who are miles away was a bit difficult to get my mind around!”

Tony found that there were many boxes to be ticked. And have been ticked.

Shortly, nine 40 foot containers of Meccano roof will arrive in the carpark at Bowls Orewa from the Nova Shades factory in Brisbane.

“It will be a fabulous facility for the club,” says Tony, “as well as the North Harbour Centre, bowls in the Auckland region, and even a great asset for bowls in New Zealand.”

The club, President Tony Rickerby oversees the construction of the new footings.

Tony and his team have grappled with the challenge facing all bowling clubs (and for that matter all sports clubs) throughout New Zealand – making the club more relevant in a world increasingly competing for Hibiscus Coasters’ leisure time.

The new cover will aid that cause. As will the new petanque terrain and club recently attached to the club. And as will a fourth bowling green being contemplated.

“What we haven’t solved,” laughs Tony “is who gets to continue playing on the new covered green if rain interrupts bowls on the other two greens.”

Perhaps the members at Naenae, Pukekohe, and Dunedin may have some suggestions.