New indoor pools plan floated

By Peter de Graaf

An indoor pool could be built at Kerikeri along with a new indoor/outdoor complex at Kaitaia if an aquatic plan is accepted.

However, the draft plan also proposes closing the pool at Kawakawa because maintaining it would not be economic.

The recommendations are part of an aquatic strategy for the Far North, funded by Sport Northland, and a feasibility study commissioned by the Far North District Council to look into new pools for Kerikeri and Kaitaia.

The combined report was released at last Thursday's council meeting in Kaikohe. Kaitaia residents made 800 submissions to the council's last annual plan calling for a new pool, while in Kerikeri a group is planning and fundraising for an indoor pool/gym complex.

The report recommends setting up a regional "hierarchy" of swimming facilities and rationalising existing pools, saying fewer but higher quality pools would be the most cost-effective option for Far North ratepayers.

The regional facilities would be the existing 50m pool at Dargaville and 25m, eight-lane pool at Whangarei with seating for 1000 people.

To meet the Far North district's wider needs the report proposed a complex in Kerikeri with a 25m indoor heated pool, a learners/hydrotherapy pool, lazy river and dive pool, at a cost of $12-15 million.

In Kaitaia the report recommended closing the Kaitaia Memorial Pool built in 1947 and developing a new complex with an indoor learners/hydrotherapy pool and outdoor 25m and dive pools. Te Puna Wai, at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa 7km north of town, would continue to be used for indoor lane swimming.

It also recommended continuing public use of school-based pools at Kaikohe's Northland College, Whangaroa College in Kaeo and, in the short term, Kerikeri High.

The plan proposes closing the pool at Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa if a new pool is built in Kerikeri, because maintaining it was not be cost effective long term.

Ward rates could be levied to fund the new pools but the council had made it clear it expected communities to raise some of the money. Te Hiku Community Aquatic and Recreational Centre group (Kaitaia) and the Kerikeri Aquatic and Fitness Centre group have already committed to fundraising.

The report recommended a council workshop to debate the proposal Schools and community boards would have to be consulted and the council would have to consider its other spending commitments, such as the Bay of Islands wastewater scheme.

- Northern Advocate

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