No cause for alarm: mayor

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No cause for alarm: mayor

Running fun: Brentan Clissold and Bailey Flanigan at the Toora pool.

LOWER attendances at many outdoor pools so far this summer will not sway South Gippsland Shire Council’s decision about the future of the facilities.
An unusually colder summer overall has resulted in slightly smaller crowds at council’s pools.
Council will not determine the pools’ futures until after further public consultations about its proposed aquatic strategy. That plan will determine the viability of public outdoor pools and most likely trigger points declaring pools unfeasible, but mayor Cr Warren Raabe said the public had no reason to worry at this stage.
“We are treading softly on it and we don’t want the community getting any major surprises. We don’t want people to get upset at this stage because we have not made any decisions at all,” he said.
“Because it’s such a sensitive issue and we need to tie it in with the community plans, and it’s such a big budgetary item, we need to take time with it.”
Council had engaged a consultant to undertake the Aquatic Strategy for South Gippsland report, and is now using that for guidance.
That report suggested the future of pools be reviewed if attendances dropped by more than 30 per cent in a season, excluding the impact of weather.
The report also suggested pools be considered for closure if infrastructure such as filtration systems failed.
“We need to start talking to the community about what happens if a pool dies. Do we replace them? Do we change what they are? That will all come out when we work with the community,” Cr Raabe said.
While councillors have been briefed about the strategy and have requested more information, Cr Raabe has asked council’s chief executive officer, Tim Tamlin, to have the strategy in place by the end of this year.
“There won’t be any sudden surprises to come out of it,” he said.
“We know how the community values the pools and not just the users but also the wider community. A lot of people say that even though they won’t use the pool, we still should have them, particularly as something for young people.”
But the demographic of pool users has changed. Since diving boards were removed due to occupational health and safety concerns, less teenagers visit pools and now the main users are young families and swimming clubs, Cr Raabe said.
“But if the usage levels continue dropping the way they have, that it is telling us that pools are no longer filling the community’s needs and we need to change what we are offering,” he said.
“We need the (attendance) figures out into the community and start the debate. We have to question whether to pay the money to keep the pools operating when people believe pools are not providing what they really want.
“Do we provide another heated pool and splash parks where we don’t need lifeguards?”
Attendances at the Korumburra outdoor pool are lower this summer. Immediate past president of the pool, Noelene Cosson, urged council to finish the strategy and give committee members some direction.
“We have been chewing over it for the last two years but we have not seen anything happening. It’s just ongoing and there are no decisions being made and it’s difficult to make a decision when there is no direction,” she said.
Ms Cosson said pools were still relevant, with the Korumburra pool not only used for recreation, but also swimming lessons and swimming club.
At the Toora pool, average attendance has increased largely due to the provision of heating enticing aerobics groups from as far as Yarram.
Manager Ernie Bennett said attendance was a little less this season due to the cooler weather, but said pools were still vital to the communities they serve.

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Posted by on Feb 1 2011. Filed under Community, 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

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