Ever since Leisure World closed in Rotorua, children in the city have been starved of hdyroslides in the city, having to travel to neighbouring regions Taupō, Whakatāne and Tauranga to get their water thrills. Earlier this year, the city got excited to hear hyrdoslides and a dive pool were on the cards as part of a major Rotorua Aquatic Centre upgrade. Kelly Makiha finds out where the proposal is at.
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A massive upgrade of Rotorua's Aquatic Centre is under way but exactly if and when Rotorua will get hydroslides and a dive pool remains up in the air.
During the past six months, contractors have been carrying out in-depth investigations at the Aquatic Centre to prepare for a $7.5 million upgrade.
The upgrade will see one of three pools closed at a time during the lengthy disruptions expected to take about a year.
The pools are more than 30 years old and are due for significant improvements.
The council has set out $7.5 million in the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan to go towards the initial stages of the redevelopment project.
However, that funding will only be enough to get the facility up to scratch and partnership funding would be needed for a proposed hydroslide and manu dive pool.
The council is working with pool managers CLM and a user advisory group on the upgrade.
The council said on its Facebook page the first priority was ensuring the pools met modern safety codes, are fit-for-purpose and future-proofed. That work includes foyer improvements (altering the main doors to prevent the wind tunnel effect), minor refurbishments to the indoor and outdoor spa pools and lazy river, making the 50m pool deeper and longer and installing "bulkhead" to allow the pool to change between one 50m pool or two 25m pools.
There will also be change room upgrades, a roof repair or replacement and a new ventilation system installed. There will be a new fire system, new ceiling design for the indoor pool area and new indoor floor coverings.
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Any upgrades to the outdoor pools will be done in winter and the indoor pool work will be done from the end of spring until autumn, over summer.
However, when asked by the Rotorua Daily Post the council couldn't be specific as to whether that work would happen this year or next.
Council operations group manager Henry Weston said the vision for the Aquatic Centre was to see a dedicated learner pool, a bomb pool, hydroslides, a gym, cafe and extra play and recreational facilities but it would need partnership funding to make it all happen.
"The first priority has to be the repairs to get the current facility up to a standard that will attract that investment."
He said the first repairs needed would be the roof and the 50m pool.
"We know there won't be a perfect time to carry out upgrades but we are fortunate that the centre has multiple pools meaning there will always be two pools available while the third is out of commission. The project team will also ensure that pool closures don't clash with other closures at other regional pools."
Work on both the indoor and out pools were expected to take six months each.
Weston said the council was excited to see the improvements to what was a very important community asset.
When asked specifically about timing of hydroslides and a dive pool, the council said in a statement those were not being ruled out or delayed.
The statement said if more investment was secured early it could happen within the same timeframe as the repairs.
The project team was also looking at alternative options at the facility to add extra "fun" activities at the pools in the meantime, but it didn't elaborate on what they were.
It said the first stage of investment was "critical to serve our community and attract investor interest for subsequent stages".
When asked if staff members' jobs would be affected while pools were closed for works, the council said no.
"Closing one pool will shift our normal operations into a smaller area so normal staff levels will be needed to accommodate this. There may be times when staff levels can operate more efficiently however, that would be worked alongside anyone that wants to take annual leave or work at other facilities if staff choose that option," the statement said.