Councillor Neil Burnside dives into pool issue

POOLSIDE: Councillor Neil Burnside with Patricia Eaton studying the archives at the YMCA Narooma Swimming Centre.

POOLSIDE: Councillor Neil Burnside with Patricia Eaton studying the archives at the YMCA Narooma Swimming Centre.

COMMUNITY group the Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee has raised $50,000 to support their negotiation with the council for an all-year, indoor pool in Batemans Bay.

They now seek funds from council and state government to build an Aquatic Centre at Hanging Rock, which may replace the existing 50m outdoor pool, which is managed in a partnership with Eurobodalla Shire Council and the YMCA.

Councillor Neil Burnside said he was asked, “There’s a heated pool at Narooma why can’t we have one?”

In response, Burnside has researched the history of the Narooma pool, to understand how the funds were raised for its construction and operation.

“Back in the 1960’s, a guy called Peter Street donated 10,000 pounds; about $250,000 in today’s money, and then the community raised the rest of the money,” Burnside said.

“A lot of hard work, sweat and tears by the Narooma and district community went into getting the pool to the stage it is. There were four stages; building the pool, hearing it, adding club rooms and then covering it.”

Burnside drew attention to the huge operating costs involving in running an aquatic centre. He says the Narooma Swimming Centre “needs a lot of money spent on it; the generators and heating piping.”

In a similar example, the Bega Valley Shire Council took control of the Pambula Aquatic Centre after Sapphire Aquatic Limited (SAL) the company, which manages and operates the centre, told council was unable to meet its financial obligations.

The chairman of the SAL board, Colin Dunn, said he believes no pool in Australia, which is open all year round operates on less than $250,000.

As reported by the Bay Post (July 16), a ratepayers levy has been proposed to pay for the cost of the proposed Batemans Bay pool.

After it was revealed that 25m long pools are cheaper to build and run than 50m pools, there was suggestion that the Narooma Pool might be shortened.

“I’d be in front of the bulldozers if they tried to cut this pool in half,” Clr Burnside said.

The matter will be included in discussion of organisation service review and strategic context, at the Eurobodalla Shire Council meeting on July 22.

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