Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie members are ecstatic the state government has allocated $50,000 toward a feasibility study.
State treasurer Dominic Perrottet made the announcement on Tuesday December 4.
The tidal pool committee will be responsible for undertaking the study. There was no determination about time frames for the feasibility study, total costs or preferred site.
Tidal pool supporters Fred O'Tool and Geoff Slack said there were several reasons they wanted a pool constructed in the area.
"It is well overdue and is a safer option than the beach for many swimmers," Mr O'Toole said.
"My personal preference is for the tidal pool to be established at Town Beach. But the feasibility study will be used to check out the preferred sites in Port Macquarie.
"There has been a steady stream of swimmers heading to where it could go - at the eastern end of the beach."
Mr Slack said it is premature to say where the site should be.
"But now we have the money we can go in and have a look at all sites," he said.
"That is the appropriate way to start this process.”
Mr Slack said a tidal pool would bring enormous health benefits.
Both men said other benefits included, that it is a safer option for swimming particularly for the older population and would also be a tourism option.
Mr O'Toole said he grew up in Newcastle and swam at the Merewether tidal pool for years.
Another supporter Beryl Britton says she is now unable to swim in the surf because it is too overpowering.
"I just can't swim in the surf anymore because I find it too strong and too frightening," she said.
"A tidal pool would be a safer option for parents with younger children because they would not have to contend with the uncertainty of the waves or water.
"I think the elderly would also find it very good for their health too.
"And I would believe it would be good for our visitors," she said.
A former state backstroke swimmer, Mrs Britton said if she wanted to be selfish she would prefer a tidal pool be established at Town Beach.
"I only live over the hill and could walk here," she said.
"But I think I will leave those decisions on the site to the experts. The feasibility study comes first and it will be a long process."
Mrs Britton said she was surprised to learn that a tidal pool was actually supported by the council some 30 years ago.
Mr Perrottet said he was swayed to provide the funding because of community support.
"Eighteen thousand people signed the petition. That's a lot of support and 18,000 people can't he wrong," he said.
"This is being supported because this is about a lot of people coming together and saying to the government that they want this project.
"The government is really happy to see the community come together and bring this project forward."
Despite Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in May openly stating a tidal pool is not an operational priority, adding that it is a significant community asset that will require ongoing funding, the push for the project has continued.
First and foremost is the need for a feasibility study to be undertaken to determine if a pool can actually be built. If that study finds that a pool cannot be built, then so be it.Leslie Williams, MP
Council did not wish to comment on the funding announcement.
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said the petition clearly demonstrated that the community wants to investigate this further.
"This is a starting point. You can't talk about costs or talk about where it is going to go until you undertake that feasibility study," she said.
"There has been some work carried out in the background. There are experts that can do quite substantial work to determine where the best site could be.
“First and foremost is the need for a feasibility study to be undertaken to determine if a pool can actually be built. If that study finds that a pool cannot be built, then so be it.
"This is now for the tidal pool committee to make further decisions. This funding is so they can continue on with their good work.
Mayor Peta Pinson has supported the committee and its efforts to explore possible options with the two preferred sites being Town Beach and Flynns Beach.
"I am really pleased that our community has been listened too," she said.
"We should be grateful to Leslie Williams that this funding has been given to the community.
"This is the first step in a lot of steps; there is a long way to go in this process."
Ms Pinson said it was too early to talk about time frames for the work.
The Port Macquarie Community Aquatic Centre Committee says it will remain focused on achieving a new centre for Port Macquarie to replace the existing aged infrastructure.
"The council have allocated $500,000 in their current budget for studies and approvals before June 2019 and a draft report from consultants Otium is now being considered by council, so momentum appears to be building," a committee spokesperson said.
"A tidal pool is a different project as it can't support many of the activities that an aquatic centre can.
"We understand there is significant support within council to progress the aquatic centre.”
There are 100 recognised tidal pools in NSW with the closest to Port Macquarie being the Forster baths, established in 1936.
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