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Ulmarra residents continue fight to reopen pool

Geoff Helisma |

It seemed like a done deal: after a comprehensive public consultation and the adoption of the Bailey Park Master Plan at the September council meeting, what could go wrong?

A lot, according to the town’s residents association, Ulmarra Village Inc, – president Steve Pickering says that CVC has misled the town about the immediate future of its ailing and currently closed swimming pool.

Councillors were split on closing the pool in December 2016 when they voted 5-4 to close it at the end of the 2016/17 swimming season: councillors Toms, Williamson, Baker, Kingsley and Lysaught voted to close the pool; councillors Simmons, Ellem, Clancy and Novak were opposed.

At next week’s CVC meeting, councillors will consider the staff’s recommendation to fill the pool, demolish the change rooms, remove the perimeter fence and prepare the site for future work in accordance with the master plan.

Mr Pickering insists that, prior to the master plan’s completion, a CVC “representative of Open Spaces stood up [at the third Ulmarra bypass plan meeting] and said there was no need to [fill the pool] as there was only a budget to upgrade the playground equipment and there were no definitive plans in place to redevelop the pool site”.

“If I hadn’t had the foresight to read the Corporate, Governance & Works Committee meeting agenda [which was held yesterday] I would never have known that council was so intent on destroying our pool without even giving the community the chance to have it reopened,” he wrote in a letter to the mayor and councillors.

The master plan specifies “decommissioning” the swimming pool by removing it and filling the hole. Similarly, the master plan specifies the removal of the associated “footpaths, amenities and … onsite sewer” to prepare the site for “alternate use of the space and [the] opportunity for repurposing the infrastructure”.

Mr Pickering told the Independent that the community “overwhelmingly wants the pool reopened”.

“We have formed a community group to lobby for it to reopen,” he said.

“We were told nothing would happen with the pool site because there is no funding.

“It seems like they are rushing the item through council to get the pool removed even though there is no funding to redevelop the site.”

The report to council recommends the allocation of $35,000 from the general fund for the proposed works.

In his letter, Mr Pickering pleads with councillors to “put a stop to this item and vote it down”.

“I feel the community needs time to formulate a plan,” he wrote.

Mr Pickering made a deputation at yesterday’s Corporate, Governance and Works Committee meeting.