The Baw Baw Shire council has committed $13.76 million to redevelop the Warragul Leisure Centre and build an outdoor pool at the site.
In a meeting yesterday the council approved a plan to build a new heated outdoor pool at the present YMCA site, as well as upgrades to present indoor facilities.
Upgrades to present facilities include the installation of an access ramp to the 25 metre indoor pool and a new zero depth water play facility.
The gas main will also be relocated as part of the project.
Of the seven councillors in attendance at the meeting, five voted in favour of the project while two voted against it.
Councillor Peter Kostos moved the motion to approve the upgrades, on the provision the outdoor pool be constructed prior to upgrading the indoor pool to ensure swimming facilities are available while the indoor pool is closed for renovations.
Councillor Tricia Jones seconded the motion, saying the new outdoor pool is needed to accommodate for local schools’ demands as well as forecasted population increases.
“We must cater for their (the public’s) needs,” Cr Jones said.
The urgency and cost of the development was questioned by councillors Mel Neil and Julie Grant.
Cr Neil said there is greater need for the money to be spent rectifying issues with essential services, including the lack of kindergarten places and degraded roads.
“It is critical we evaluate and prioritise services,” Cr Neil said.
Mayor Councillor Diane Blackwood supported the motion, saying money set aside for the project in the 2009 budget and a possible $3 million better pools grant would help reduce the immediate costs for the council.
But Cr Neil said no government funding is presently available for an outdoor pool.
Cr Grant said the Drouin Pool is a sufficient service for the area and people “seem to have forgotten” its recent $1 million upgrade.
Cr Grant also said outdoor pools have been growing less popular since the 1950s, when present infrastructure was built, and it is hard to justify a new pool with what she sees as “minimal community benefits.”
“It is absolutely undeniable that outdoor [pools] are less in demand,” Cr Grant said.
Councillors Blackwood and Kostos however argued population growth will ultimately see a demand for the new pool.
Cr Blackwood also said Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty “fully believed that if we (the council) go hand in hand wit the community” the project will be considered for state funding.
Not present at the meeting were councillors Adam Tyson and Tony Wolfe.
Get free email updates from the Baw Baw Citizen
Read more Baw Baw News