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The Council train may have left the station but at what cost

The Beagle Editor, How long is a pool?

There has been a lot of media space devoted to the proposed aquatic, arts, and community centre proposed for Batemans Bay and a good bit of it has been focussing on the politics rather than the “facts” of the matters, largely due to there not being any details of a business case being made public.

Mostly the media attention has been on the aquatic features proposed but there are many reasons for examination of council’s plans for the arts, cultural and community facilities – the latter might best be left for another occasion to be expanded upon and hopefully we will hear some facts and constructive comments from more qualified people in those areas.

Anyhow here are a few “pros” for having an Olympic length pool, vs a 25 metre one, in Batemans Bay as I see the issue –

  • 50 metres is the standard length of Olympic pools – our shire should have an Olympic standard pool: Narooma’s pool is a 50 metre/6 lane one.

  • 50 metres is the recommended length for serious competitive swimming - i.e. to match Olympic and world standards – both as a training and event/carnival venue. (Sure there are short course events up to world level but these are regarded as inferior to Olympic standards. Short course training can be conducted in an Olympic pool but not vice versa.)

  • It is the recommended length for fitness training, particularly for stamina, recommended by peak sporting bodies in addition to those involved in aquatic sports.

  • It is the length recommended by schools for their water safety training and competitions. (Considering the easy access to water in our shire, it is an indictment on the system that there are many students who can’t swim!)

  • Surf Life Saving hold that the off season stamina training is essential for the capability and safety of their members and that the presence of such a facility will aid the recruitment of life savers.

  • The competitive swimming facilities and club-type infrastructure encourage young people to be physically fit and healthy, to be socially aware, capable and responsible around water and to strive for sporting excellence in some cases.

  • Good coaching/training personnel will be attracted to good facilities that support competitive swimming and other aquatic sports all year round (they don’t want a job just for the summer and to be unemployed in winter nor do the swimmers want to be fit only half the time).

  • Road safety, time saving and the local economy will be benefitted. Many serious swimmers are travelling to Ulladulla for access to quality facilities and coaching – it is a shorter drive and more sense for Bay area people to go out of the shire than to go to Narooma for the inferior facilities available there.

  • A large pool allows for multiple simultaneous activities – e.g. some lanes can be reserved for squad training while organised aquarobics happen in some and there is still room for recreational/personal exercising users.

  • Opening hours could be more flexible in cases of economic need, e.g. in parts of the off season, as an Olympic pool in addition to the other pools and features in the proposed centre would cater for many more simultaneous uses than currently possible. Currently there are restricted times for access at all of the shire’s three pools, even Narooma, because of the demand for pool access by a wide variety of users and this is exacerbated by the limited opening hours of all three centres even in the summer months.

  • Civic pride – this would have to be mentioned as a “pro” because the lack of such a facility would be a cause of embarrassment and shame.

  • Economically, it is less costly to provide the preferred size pool and its infrastructure at initial centre construction than to demolish and rebuild at a later stage, space and infrastructure capacity permitting. (Council’s own depreciation schedules nominate the life of pools to be up to 50 years so it’s a long wait for replacement because of old age and age related conditions.)

The above reasons would apply just about anywhere but for the Eurobodalla Shire specifically, the Narooma pool requires extensive and expensive repairs as is mentioned in all pool reviews conducted in the past twenty years up to and including the latest aquatic strategy; it was the subject of an ex-councillor’s appeal for $2-3 million grant funding in a recent letter to the Narooma News. Bearing in mind the expensive nature of pool construction and reconstruction, it would make more sense to have the costs associated with the shire’s Olympic size pool (if we can only have one!) in Batemans Bay which is the most populous town in the shire where there is a far better chance of attracting higher numbers of entry paying visitors needed to offset the costs.

Do you have any pros or cons for council’s consideration?

Jeff de Jager


Image: Unlike Councillor Lindsay Brown, with his recent train comment in regards to the 50m pool decision, there are many in the community who continue to "Agitate and Advocate" and may well derail Councillor Brown's the train and all those aboard.


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