A Port Macquarie News poll asking if a tidal pool should be a priority for council has shown strong support for the facility.
Launched on Tuesday, December 4, the poll has been consistently running at around 75 per cent in favour of a tidal pool.
The poll has received around 2500 votes.
In May, 2018, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council stated a tidal pool is not an operational priority.
The council said that it is a significant community asset that will require ongoing funding.
Leading the debate to confirm council's mindset on the prioritisation of the tidal pool was Cr Rob Turner.
Following the state government's decision to provide the funding, Cr Turner said he would continue to follow the matter.
"I’ll be interested to follow the progress and see what the feasibility study turns up," he said.
So, how much would it cost council to maintain an ocean baths in today's economic climate?
MidCoast Council operates the Forster Ocean Baths near the town's main beach.
Manager community spaces, recreation and trades Daniel Aldridge says the ocean baths are fit for purpose and in good condition.
They were last improved some 60 years ago, he said.
"The ocean baths are in no danger of deterioration. While they are not new they are not falling apart either," he said.
"The last major upgrade was some 60 years ago.
We have a budget of $63,250 per annum. We use that to, empty the water each month - twice in December and January, we remove excess sand, and pressure clean the walls.Daniel Aldridge MidCoast Council
"We have a budget of $63,250 per annum. We use that to, empty the water each month - twice in December and January, we remove excess sand, and pressure clean the walls.
"Our high use times are around the Christmas holidays but we get a steady stream of users throughout the year."
Mr Aldridge estimated some 100,000 people utilise the ocean pool each year.
The manager said technology changes, including upgrading pumps, had made the cleaning and refilling process easier.
Mr Aldridge acknowledged that some residents had raised concerns about more regular cleaning.
Newcastle's Merewether ocean baths are cleaned weekly but cater to more users, he said.
State treasurer Dominic Perrettot was in Port Macquarie to announce the $50,000 grant to cover some costs involved in a feasibility study into the project.
He was swayed, he says, by the 18,000 signatures on a petition presented to the state government.
The treasurer also indicated the government was "really happy to see the community come together and bring this project forward".
There are no time frames at this stage as to when the study would take place and how much it would cost.
The Tidal Pool for Port Macquarie group will be responsible for the study. The community group says it will investigate all possible sites.
The Port News' story on the announcement also drew a cross-section of comments on its Facebook page.
Some believed the funding was nothing short of an election ploy while others said they saw merit in the proposal.
The Forster Ocean Baths were opened to the public on December 20, 1915 with an official opening the following month. Fifteen hundred people attend.
According to the ocean pools website, the baths were built by emergency relief workers.
The sand menace seemed to need frequent clearing, leading to repeated letters to the local papers about ‘mud hole’ baths and water ankle deep even in the 1950s.
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