BAW Baw Shire councillors have approved a $13.5 million upgrade to the Warragul Leisure Centre which will see the construction of a new 51-metre eight-lane outdoor pool on the site.
In a meeting last month councillors supported a three-stage redevelopment which will also see the existing indoor pool upgraded, a new learn-to-swim pool built, the installation of new ramps, indoor spectator seating and change room upgrades, the relocation of gas pipes and landscaping works carried out.
An enclosure and 200-seat spectator stand for the outdoor pool have been proposed but are subject to future funding availability.
Proposals to build a new outdoor pool in Warragul have divided the council and community for years. In March 2012 a plan for a 10 lane pool, upped from eight lanes at the last minute while a number of councillors were not present, narrowly survived a motion to stop its constriction.
That plan was ultimately thwarted by an unexpectedly large super contribution request.
Opponents to the development argued easy access to the Drouin outdoor pool and declining demand for a new outdoor pool in Warragul meant the construction of a new pool was unnecessary.
Mayor Murray Cook said in a media release the new design will deliver a number of projects proposed previously.
“The modified project largely contributes to the original $28.25 million leisure centre masterplan. Any further works to the centre outside of this project scope would need to be considered as a separate project,” Cr Cook said.
“The masterplan has been a valuable tool in bringing this project to fruition, however the council and community cannot afford a $28 million project at this time.
“Council understands that getting the redevelopment to this stage has taken a long time. We thank the community for its patience while we worked to determine the best long-term outcome for the community now and into the future.
“We have listened to the community and will be providing new pool facilities. We think that this provides the best outcome and expect that it will meet the needs of the majority of users.”
In October 2012 then-mayor Diane Blackwood said the future of the project was in the hands of the next council, which was elected later that year.
“The next council will have to make the final decision how we progress with any capital works because it’s certainly making an impact on that,” Ms Blackwood said.
“Our infrastructure gap is growing by the day and we’re not able to put significant funds to the types of projects to make any headway… so it’s really difficult to explain that we’re dealing with something we really have no control over.”
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