People talk pool options

By Anna Wallis

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Wanganui East Pool Trust member Toddy Sollitt addresses the meeting last night. Photo/Rae Cliffe
Wanganui East Pool Trust member Toddy Sollitt addresses the meeting last night. Photo/Rae Cliffe

At a public meeting about the Wanganui East Pool's future last night the crowd of about 100 people were asked to come up with solutions.

So they did.

Deanna McKay stepped forward and said the "big community needed a big voice" of pool users, schools, the Wanganui East Pool Trust and the suburb's residents to advise the Wanganui District Council of what should be done.

She will organise a group to make submissions to the council

Mayor Annette Main told the people at the Wanganui East School hall council would do what they wanted, as long as they were prepared to wear the cost.

Choices included closing the pool for a year while a plan was developed, keeping the pool going next season without heating; gifting the pool to the community; rebuilding the pool on site; rebuilding the pool elsewhere or closing it permanently.

The mayor said the community needed to make submissions, not just to the annual plan but also on the long-term 10-year plan, on what needs to happen.

Council deputy property manager Leighton Toy said an independent assessment by Strategic Leisure NZ indicated the pool was at the end of its life. One of the biggest problems was the filtration system was not up to standard. To keep going for another year the pool would need a replacement boiler at $35,000 as well as painting and maintenance which would cost a similar amount.

A new pool would cost an estimated $2.5 million; that figure was drawn from a similar pool complex built at Porirua. Patea had rebuilt a basic, unheated version of its pool for $1.5 million. That pool was paid for, half by the South Taranaki District Council and half from the community.

To close and decommission the pool would cost $100,000.

Those at the meeting said closing the pool could lead to more people swimming in the Whanganui River, which was unsafe.

The question of using the Wanganui Girls' College pool was also raised. The answer appears to be that it is too deep to be used by families.

The former principal of Wanganui East School, Robin Paul, said the community had been through a similar process in 2008 so there was an element of deja vu. He said the council's annual plan, which talked of a "family friendly Wanganui" and caring for the "health and safety of the community", pointed to the pool remaining open.

Grey Power Wanganui president Graham Adams said keeping the pool open was a matter of social justice for the area. He said the council should "place more emphasis on the needs of all sectors including those that are more disadvantaged than some of us".

The community has until May 7 to make its submission to the council.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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