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Clarence Valley Council staff working on the Grafton Olympic Pool in 2012. The report to the April CVC meeting stated: “An aquatic specialist has inspected the pools and commenced investigation for the water loss. “They have provided a recommendation, based on previous test results, as well as the work completed in 2012 … which significantly contributed to water savings in this instance. “These works are currently being scheduled and will be undertaken in the closure period.: Image: CVC

Grafton pool master plan falls into the deep end

In June 2016 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) began a process to produce a Grafton Olympic Pool master plan; at the 2020 April 27 CVC meeting the plan was “dead in the water”, according to CVC’s general manager Ashley Lindsay.

Consequently, the $600,000 staff had flagged “for the development of the detailed design”, will not be included in CVC’s draft 2020/21 capital works program or budget.

The plan’s progress and associated issues have come before councillors on nine occasions; whether or not the plan will be resuscitated is unclear.

“If the third rate increase (eight per cent, inclusive of the rate peg) is adopted in June, it will more than likely be brought back from an asset management perspective,” Mr Lindsay said.

“We would need to do a risk assessment of the [existing] facility that finds it is failing and becoming unsafe for users.”

In December last year, the deputy mayor, Jason Kingsley, convinced a majority of councillors to not abandon the idea of including a new dive pool in the master plan, with the multipoint decision including: “Seek an estimate of cost for the construction of a new diving pool and associated infrastructure including towers and boards and report these costs to its April 2020 meeting.”

A report prepared by Liquid Blu had recommended removing the dive pool because retaining it would impact negatively on the “return on investment (ROI) analysis and evaluation of whole of life (WOL) costing” of the master plan design.

“What concerns me is we had an adopted master plan; now after consultation we have moved the goal posts and made massive changes to the master plan,” Cr Kingsley said at the December CVC meeting.

He said, without the dive pool it wouldn’t be “a facility for teenagers” and that they would likely “make nuisances of themselves in the lap pool, doing back flips … [and] doing silly things like diving in shallow areas”.

“You can include five other pools or structures but they will not replace the second most used facility at the moment [the dive pool],” he said.

At last week’s April CVC meeting, Cr Kingsley made the same arguments when staff recommended to councillors to “not include” a dive pool.

Staff advised councillors that a diving facility would cost an estimated $1.75million.

Staff also alluded to a new facility suffering from similar negative aspects to the current dive pool: “There are several hazards identified with the diving pool including: slippery surfaces, pool depth, large crowds, peer pressure; and these hazards can lead to personal injury or even death.”

Councillor Richie Williamson was unsuccessful in amending Cr Kingsley’s motion to not include a dive pool, as per staff’s multipoint recommendation.

Councillors Toms, Ellem and Baker voted with Cr Williamson; councillors Novak, Clancy, Simmons and Kingsley opposed the amendment (Cr Lysaught was absent).

The mayor’s casting vote carried the day and Cr Kingsley’s motion, to include a dive pool, along with four points advocated by staff, including the allocation of $600,000 to develop a detailed design and to investigate the inclusion of a low height diving board within the 50 metre pool.

However, it, too, was defeated, with councillors Baker, Novak, Clancy, Toms and Ellem effectively ending (for now) any further progress of the master plan.