Plans to update and build a new swimming pool in Batemans Bay has caused some local residents and the Eurobodalla Shire Council to bump heads.
The council has applied for funding to develop an indoor, year-round aquatic centre which would replace the existing 50-metre outdoor pool at the Mackay Park Precinct with “multiple, purpose-built aquatic spaces, and an arts centre”.
The estimated $46 million project would see the 50-metre pool downsized to 25 metres. It will create space for a 10-metre warm water therapy pool and spa, free-form indoor leisure pool that includes learn-to-swim and toddler areas, water play splash pad, waterslides and a gym.
But Maureen Searson, who is part of the Fight for Batemans Bay 50m Pool Community group, said the 25-metre pool would not meet the needs of the community.
The council had not involved “frequent users” of the pool during the consultation process, she said.
“Council did not involve the Batemans Bay Swimming Club, schools, Surf Life Saving Clubs, Eurocoast Triathlon Club or the Disability Trust during the consultation process to design the aquatic facility,” Mrs Searson said.
“The community will not be able to use the 25-metre in the same way as we use a 50-metre pool.
“A 25-metre will not meet the needs of the whole community, for example [surf life-saving] clubs need a 50-metre pool for endurance training for ocean rescues.”
The closest alternative 50 metre pool is in Narooma, which will also be used by residents during construction at Batemans bay.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes said the 50-year-old pool was nearing the end of its life and was not meeting the needs of the community.
“For a long time, residents have expressed a desire for something better,” Ms Innes said.
“If council can source sufficient funds, we would demolish the old outdoor pool and build a modern indoor aquatic facility that everyone can benefit from.
She said council had “engaged with the community and interested user groups from the outset, as far back as 2012”.
“We were aware at the start of this project that some members of the Batemans Bay community wanted a 50-metre pool,” she said.
“As part of the process to prepare a business case and concept, we obtained independent, professional advice that there is a limited market for lap swimming when compared to the strong demand for recreation, program and therapy pool space.
“If we provided an indoor purpose built, eight-lane 25-metre pool for the training needs of swim club members and lap swimmers, we could also provide a warm water program pool and a leisure and learn-to-swim pool, meeting the needs of more community members.”
The current outdoor 50-metre pool is only open for about six months of the year.
The council is seeking funds from the state and federal governments.
Mrs Searson said when the council was seeking endorsement from the Batemans Bay Swimming Club and schools, it did not tell schools that the 50-metre pool was being replaced.
“Once the swimming club and schools discovered the replacement of 50-metre capacity with a 25-metre pool their endorsement was withdrawn,” she said.
“We support the hydrotherapy, learn to swim, splash parks etc that are included in the aquatic centre plans so we are not saying that only the 50-metre pool matters but council needs to provide for the whole community which only 25-metre will not.”