Council’s pool backflip


Council’s pool backflip

Happier now: members of the Mirboo North community welcomed changes to South Gippsland Shire Council’s Strategic Direction for Aquatic Facilities in South Gippsland 2012-16. They are front: Bill Valle, Jack MacDonald and Geoff Williamson. Back: Gerry Rabach, Glenys Valle, Liz Paterson, Mary Baker, Derrick Ehmke, Judy Potter, Maggie Tree, Bert Bright and Janet Bradley.

PUBLIC pressure has forced South Gippsland Shire Council to give all pools a fair go.
Council’s final draft aquatic strategy released last Wednesday gives all pools in the region an equal opportunity to survive. Council has offered support for extensions and upgrades at the three least used pools: Foster, Mirboo North and Poowong. When applying for grants for such works, the initial draft required communities to fully fund the local contribution.
Now council will consider paying up to 30 per cent of the costs for “well developed proposals”.
Funding from communities and non-council grants will be required to make up 70 per cent of the project cost.
The change follows community opposition to the original council plan.
However renovating and maintaining the pools will cost council $9.816 million – an extra $1.034 million over 10 years, based on council’s Long Term Financial Plan.
That equated to an average of $100,000 a year and council CEO Tim Tamlin was confident the community could help raise that amount, given the level of community interest in the aquatic strategy. External grants and commercial sponsorship would also be sought.
The Mirboo North and Korumburra pools will also be renovated over the next 10 years. Master plans for those pools will be developed in 2012-13, followed by Poowong, Foster and Toora pools in 2013-14, to guide future investment in those pools.
However trigger points for closure – such as low attendance and plant breakdown – will prompt council to review the future of pools.
Mary Baker, secretary of the Mirboo North Pool Committee, said the new Strategic Direction for Aquatic Facilities in South Gippsland 2012-16 seemed “positive”.
“There is definitely more help for the Mirboo North pool. Previously we were part of the ‘have nots’ but now we can get ahead and pursue the works that we want, working with council’s consideration of course,” she said.
Cr David Lewis, who was applauded by Mirboo North pool supporters after the strategy briefing for advocating changes to the initial strategy, said the new plan proposed “significant improvements” and was a “big plus compared to the previous one”.
“This strategy removes the discrimination between the pools and utilises the energy of the community to facilitate improvements and expansions of pool facilities, and I think that will reduce the cost to rate-payers, because with the community behind an issue, it will tend to push for more support from the State and Federal governments in the way of grants,” he said.
“If the community is behind something, I think that weight will aid us in our requests to state and federal politicians. It’s the votes element.”
South Gippsland SPLASH is in the best condition of all pools, followed by Toora, and then equally Foster and Korumburra, and Mirboo North the worst, with major maintenance needed to prevent further deterioration.
The draft strategy attracted a high level of public reaction, with council receiving 860 submissions to the draft strategy, including three joint submissions with more than 2500 names.
Among the issues raised were:
• the least used pools (Foster, Mirboo North and Poowong) were disadvantaged by not being offered council support;
• all pools need financial commitment from council; and
• comparing outdoor pools with the indoor regional complex South Gippsland SPLASH in Leongatha was unfair.
As a result, the new strategy recognises South Gippsland SPLASH as servicing the entire shire and council will continue to plan to improve the facility.
The future of pools will be governed by the following trigger points:
• the pool operator is not able to comply with occupational health and safety requirements within maintenance and capital work budgets;
• legislative changes require additional investment beyond projections;
• breakdown of pool filtration, pool shell or critical infrastructure;
• non-compliances with annual operations budget; or
• drop in attendance by 20 per cent over two consecutive seasons based on average attendances from 2005-06 to 2010-11.
If a pool triggers a point, a report will be prepared for council to consider the future of the pool.
Ms Baker told council the Mirboo North committee was seeking a dedicated first aid room, as that room is now shared with an office. Mayor Cr Warren Raabe suggested she wait for the master plan to be done.
The strategy is now available for public comment and will be consideration for adoption by council at the February 22 meeting.
The strategy will be reviewed in 2016-17.

Short URL: /?p=2885

Posted by on Feb 9 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Share your love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *