It’s official; the Ulmarra pool will be closed at the end of the 2016/17 season – that is unless something extraordinary happens between now and then.
At last week’s council meeting, councillors made the fateful decision after several years of looking for a solution to preserve the facility, which the council’s works and civil director Troy Anderson said at a public meeting on November 9 was “at the end of its useful life”.
The minutes of that meeting cite that “there is a reasonable leak in the pool, the chlorine pump needs changing, pool needs a liner, amenities require more work, not all accessible and roof requires replacing”.
There is a glimmer of hope for the pool, however: Cr Andrew Baker’s successful motion set the entry at $1 for the rest of the season – the total attendance will be the subject of a further report to council.
Clarence Valley Council (CVC) spent $79,893.39 during the 2014/15 year to operate the pool, while taking $1,618.18 through the gate from 1,678 patrons, which means that each person’s entry was subsidised at $46.65 by CVC.
This compares with per person subsidies of $33.48 at Glenreagh, $21.82 at South Grafton, $12.19 at Grafton, $8.50 at Maclean and $7.43 at Yamba – the report to council also highlights a “44 per cent decline in patronage over the past three seasons”.
The council has met with, and explored several options put forward by, the Ulmarra Pool Preservation Association (UPPA), which included using ‘in-kind’ tradespeople to lower maintenance costs and applying for grants such as the Community Building Partnership grant of $18,300 in 2014, for supply and installation of shade cloth over the pool.
Another option considered was the ‘Pauline Cole Proposal’, which suggested that CVC continues to operate the pool, offer free entry to nearby residents and subsidise the pool through a “localised rate increase for Ulmarra residents only”.
However, the report to council stated that “the two proposals have not been able to demonstrate a realistic sustainable outcome for the [pool’s] management and operation … it is recommended that the pool close”.