A new 25-metre pool, family leisure pool, water play park, cafe and heated hydrotherapy pool are all included in a major redesign of the ageing Tenterfield Memorial Baths, but for the time being it will remain on paper.
Councillors opted at last week's meeting for Design 2 of the choices presented by RMP & Associates, engaged to complete a master plan of the facility. That design will now be put on public display with submissions invited. Should none be forthcoming the plan will be adopted and will direct future asset maintenance and works at the site.
Further effort will be invested in developing the plan should the prospect of $10 million for the project be forthcoming, but at this stage it's well beyond the scope of council's budget.
Design 2 incorporates everything on the stakeholder wishlist, including operating as an indoor facility during the colder months and with a small gym/fitness centre.
Some councillors did express concerns over the viability of operating a year-round hydrotherapy pool, even with Tenterfield's ageing population and given that it was rated the highest priority for stakeholders and the community.
Chief executive Terry Dodds noted a recent comment from Armidale Regional Council's head that his council couldn't afford to run its hydrotherapy pool, with a population 7-8 times that of Tenterfield.
There was also the prospect that a gym would compete with an existing business.
The design maximises the footprint of the site, and orientates the facility more toward Rotary Park currently behind it. The new entrance would be just along from the current Return-and-Earn recycling machine, and incorporate off-street parking.
As Councillor Greg Sauer commented, it's a starting point. The next stage is to seek the public's feedback, and then to find the money to make it happen.