Great ideas for new pool complex, but we need to economise

Great ideas for new pool complex, but we need to economise

While councillors are drilling down to their preferred option for the upgrade of Tenterfield Pool, any decision on the upgrade is again deferred pending more information, particularly on cheaper options and lessons learned from the recent $2.4 million renovation of Bingara Pool.

There is even the suggestion of a 'green site', feeling that attempts to renovate the existing complex limits options. A 50-metre pool remains on some wish lists.

Based on concept plans of the new facilities provided under the $10 million project, estimated attendance figures in its first year of operation are projected to be 2000 additional leisure seekers along with 35,000 show-ups at the gym, 9000 in learn-to-swim classes, 1500 hydrotherapy treatments, 2100 'elderly' visitors and 23,000 general entries.

Their patronage may be crucial. In his report to council acting chief corporate officer Paul Della said even if council received grants for the entire implementation of the project, it would struggle to afford the additional depreciation and other operating costs without major impacts to the community financially.

Councillor Tom Peter is well-acquainted with hydrotherapy having been a regular visitor to a Toowoomba facility after he lost his leg. While there he did some ad hoc research of the challenges of maintaining a hydrotherapy pool and is unconvinced Tenterfield could justify it, even given its top ranking on the community wishlist.

This is the front-runner in a design for a new aquatic centre, but comes with a hefty price tag.

This is the front-runner in a design for a new aquatic centre, but comes with a hefty price tag.

This concurs with a comment made by then-chief executive Terry Dodds at an earlier meeting that Armidale Regional Council couldn't afford to run its hydrotherapy pool, with a population 7-8 times that of Tenterfield.

As council decides on a plan and then pursues funding to implement it, the condition of the existing pool remains a concern. Mr Della said the risk to council continues to increase as the pool ages and the infrastructure deteriorates.

"Without direction, forward planning of the facility is difficult and could put council at risk of mismanagement of the repairs and maintenance of the pool complex and associated budgets."

Four submissions were received when the concept plan last went on public exhibition at the start of the year. They ranged from sidestepping the cost of a redesign and instead updating the existing facility, to taking the plunge to create a magnificent resource for residents and visitors alike for many years to come.

General feedback, however, is for a less-costly option.

Another consultation session will be arranged with stakeholders once more information is at hand.

In the meantime the pool operators are applying for grants to cover blankets for the existing pool. Works to improve the toilets and provide additional privacy are also being prioritised.