Uncertainty over Wairarapa pool

By Vomle Springford

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SUMMER ATTRACTION: The popular swim relay at the Eketahuna public swimming pool last year. PHOTO/FILE
SUMMER ATTRACTION: The popular swim relay at the Eketahuna public swimming pool last year. PHOTO/FILE

Eketahuna's popular outdoor pool is slowly falling apart and its future will depend on what the community wants - and what it is prepared to pay.

"The facility needs replacing," said Blair King, Tararua District Council's chief executive.

Built in 1938, it was constantly being repaired, he said.

"The rate of water loss is quite high ... they [volunteers] need to continually repair it, they are basically just adding Band-aids to the pipes."

Mr King said the pool's future was up to the people of Eketahuna.

He said $500,000 had been allocated in the council's long-term plan to replace it but it was not enough for the kind of pool the community wanted.

Putting more council money into funding the pool for a small town like Eketahuna was not cost-effective.

The town's population was not growing, he said.

"We are combating the rural drift which makes the per cost unit of a pool that much higher."

He said the community had to decide if they wanted the "bare bones" or something better.

"It's up to the community what kind of facility they want and to create a business case around that."

Mr King said in the long term if a completely new pool was built, ratepayers would have to pay for the operating and depreciation costs.

"Does the cost stack up in the long term?"

It all came down to the amount of funding, how best to use the council funding and the cost per ratepayer.

A public meeting is planned for May to discuss options for the pool.

The prospect of the Bush Multisport Trust developing a pool was being discussed but funding for it was separate to the money allocated for the Eketahuna pool, according to minutes from the council's last meeting.

Pool committee president, Ryan Seator, said rumours about the pool closing were unfounded.

"It's an asset to the town."

Eketahuna Community Board deputy chairwoman Di Eagle said she was not worried about the pool's future.

"There's no need to go jumping up and down."

The council expected the community to do some fundraising, she said.

Mrs Eagle said the pool committee had confirmed the importance of the pool to Eketahuna in a submission to council.

"Our pool is very well maintained. It really only needs a re-line, it's probably not as costly as they think."

Usage of the council's three outdoor public pools in Eketahuna, Pahiatua and Woodville increased by 14 per cent in the 2012/13 year compared to the previous year.

Mr Seator said the popular swim relay would still be held at the pool on February 2.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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