Pool a community asset

By Danielle Nicholson

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Hamilton could have another heated pool at its disposal by the end of next year.

Hamilton Boys' High School has teamed up with Swimming Waikato to set about upgrading the school's pool. And while the pool is on school grounds, the upgraded facility will be a community one.

Teacher Phil Basel, the school's spokesman for the project, said while the heated pool would benefit the school, Boys' High wanted the pool to be available for use by the wider community including swimming clubs.

"We really want to be part of the community and this project reinforces that," said Mr Basel.

Swimming Waikato chief executive Craig Scott said the shared school-community pool model was part of the reason his organisation had got behind the initiative.

"We can see this community and school sports model being the way of the future. We need pools that can serve the community year-round."

Mr Basel said there were two options for the pool upgrade. One option, to install new changing facilities, a heating system, a bulkhead to convert the pool to a standard 25m length, shelter and seating, and parking, would cost about $500,000. However, a scaled down development would cost about $250,000 but still see the pool heated and available for use year-round.

Boys' High and Swimming Waikato plan financial backing for the development from private benefactors and funding bodies. They will seek operational funding from Hamilton City Council.

However, the project can't proceed until a crucial report is tabled. Expected in the first quarter of next year, a regional sports and recreation facilities plan will outline what facilities are lacking in the region. It is expected the report will show the need for more aquatic and indoor sports facilities.

Council will review the report before committing funds to the Boys' High pool project. Supporters of the Municipal Pools are also eagerly awaiting the plan in the hopes of securing council funding towards a major overhaul of the century-old swimming facility. And while Mr Scott is supportive of more lane space in the city in general, he's not certain the Municipal Pools upgrade would be the best use of the money required for that.

"There still won't be enough lane space with both the Boys' High pool and the Munis. But there are probably better options out there for the use of that money. I would just question if that is the right pool in the right place for Hamilton moving forward.

"Boys' High is in a good location, surrounded by residential areas and there will be plenty of parking available. "

He said the Boys' High pool upgrade was good value for money and would likely serve a community catchment of about 9000.

The pool project is stage one of a long-term plan for a $30 million sports complex at the school. Part of that will see the school's tennis courts and hockey turf upgraded at a cost of about $2 million. That is expected about the same time as the pool upgrade or soon after. Following that, the school hopes to develop an indoor pool for water polo and dedicated lanes for swimming. There will also be indoor courts.

- Hamilton News

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