RESIDENTS will have a say on the future of aquatic facilities in Port Macquarie in early 2019.
A draft report from independent assessor Otium Planning Group on the aquatic facility requirements of the region and plans for a new pool in Port Macquarie has been presented to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for review.
The review will ensure that any new pool facility meets the needs of the region’s growing population over the next 50 years.
The draft report will consider forecast population growth, the region’s changing demographics and site requirements including size, location, and accessibility.
Council will engage with the community next year to identify a suitable location for the facility, and develop a concept plan of what the new pool may look like.
Significant community engagement on the report’s findings will occur early in 2019.Melissa Watkins, director
“Otium Planning Group have presented council with a draft report on a proposed new aquatic facility for Port Macquarie, and we are working through this report with them,” director Melissa Watkins said.
“Significant community engagement on the report’s findings will occur early in 2019.”
The Port Macquarie Community Aquatic Centre Committee is urging council to prioritise the replacement of the aging Port Macquarie Olympic pool with a modern aquatic centre.
Spokesperson Greg Freeman said the group has been patient while council has conducted investigations but now the priority needs to be focused as council considers budget allocations early next year.
“As we have said many times, the current infrastructure at the Port Macquarie Olympic Pool, which was built in 1966, is well past its use-by date and requires urgent replacement,” Mr Freeman said.
“Engineering studies have confirmed that the structural elements are severely deteriorated. The current pool is bursting at the seams. It has severe capacity issues and is constrained in both what it can offer and by the site it is located on.
“Consultation was undertaken between our group and council last year and there is clear support in the community for a modern facility that will meet the future needs of our region.”
Mr Freeman said a modern aquatic centre can provide learn to swim, squads, aquarobics, rehabilitation, lap and competitive swimming, hydrotherapy and numerous other activities required by the region’s growing population.
“Our group has made a submission to council’s consultants, Otium. There seems to be some floundering on making this happen as this process has been rolling along without result for many years.
“The development of a new aquatic centre is of significant importance to the region and there are huge social and business opportunities that a well designed facility can deliver.”
Council’s 2018-19 Delivery Program and Operational Plan includes a key deliverable that detailed ‘design and approvals’ need to be undertaken by the end of June 2019.
We believe that council needs to firmly commit to a new aquatic facility as a top priority and stop this ongoing procrastination.Greg Freeman
“We would assume that a facility layout and site selection process should be completed very soon for this deliverable to be achieved,” Mr Freeman said.
“in the late 90s, council identified the fact that the existing pool was at the end of its service life and scheduled replacement for the early 2000s.
“Fifteen years later we are still waiting. We believe that council needs to firmly commit to a new aquatic facility as a top priority and stop this ongoing procrastination.
“We understand grant funds would need to be sought for an aquatic centre and council would need to make an allocation in their capital works program, neither of which can occur until the design and approvals have been developed.
“If our group does not see some swift action towards meeting council’s stated objectives early next year we expect there will be a community-led push to elevate the importance of this project.
“Our group constantly hears from community members about the need for a new facility to meet current and future needs.
“If council does not commit to the planning of this project to the point where it is “shovel ready” we will have no chance of accessing potential state and federal government grant funding.”
A community survey undertaken by council indicated that lap swimming and general recreation were the most popular activities undertaken at the Port Macquarie pool, with around 25 per cent of people using the pool two-three times per week.