Benalla Rural City Council is investigating the cost of several options for redeveloping the Benalla Aquatic Centre, following community consultation that revealed a high level of commitment to the 50m pool.
The Benalla Aquatic Centre Redevelopment Steering Committee, made up of representatives from Council, the Aquatic Centre and user groups, has been meeting regularly since last November to discuss how the project should proceed.
“A financial assessment will need to be done to determine the cost of different approaches, including tackling the 50m pool as a stand-alone project,” said Mayor Cr Barbara Alexander. “Work will not be able to commence until at least the end of the 2015-2016 financial year, and in the meantime for the 50m pool we are dealing with very old infrastructure that has already required extensive repairs.”
Cr Alexander said that investigations were currently being made into whether it was feasible to purchase interim equipment that would alleviate the filtration and leakage issues for the pool.
“Unfortunately we have reached the point where simply undertaking remedial work rather than rebuilding may not be cost effective or a responsible use of ratepayers’ money,” she said. “There is the risk that the equipment may fail, and we are looking at what contingencies there are to avoid this if at all possible.”
Benalla Rural City Council consulted with the community in 2011 and received an enthusiastic response. Options that have been put forward include an outdoor water-play park, the reinstatement of the family pool, café and rooms for health providers such as physiotherapists whose clients use the hydrotherapy pool.
The highest priority for the community however, said Cr Alexander, was the 50m pool, which is now 57 years old.
“As an Olympic sized pool with 6 lanes, we need to maintain it as a competition pool. It is used two to three times a year for formal competition, as well as by schools for swimming carnivals and other training programs,” she said.
In the meantime, the pool and its filtration system and water usage are being constantly monitored.
The cost of the total redevelopment is expected to be between $2-$3 million dollars, and is a major project for the Council, as one of the priorities identified in the 2013-2017 Council Plan. The Steering Committee hopes to have the development planned to a stage where submissions for funding can be made in early 2015.