Questions rise about cost and access of new Aquatic Centre

People power: TAG members Ross White, Peter Ryan, Michele Bolte and Grant Simm spearheaded the campaign to get Tamworth a new aquatic facility, and while it is a win for the city it has also come at a cost, which many users are only just realising. Photo: Gareth Gardner

People power: TAG members Ross White, Peter Ryan, Michele Bolte and Grant Simm spearheaded the campaign to get Tamworth a new aquatic facility, and while it is a win for the city it has also come at a cost, which many users are only just realising. Photo: Gareth Gardner

The announcement that Tamworth would have a new aquatic facility “shovel ready” by the end of next year was music to many citizens’ ears, although the downside of that decision is starting to sink in for many other loyal pool users.

The battle to get the city an extra, or improved facility, has been ongoing for almost fifty years, until the recent campaign spearheaded by the Tamworth Aquatic Group found it’s mark.

On Thursday Tamworth Regional Council announced that the planning and design would be completed by the end of 2018, two years ahead of the original schedule for the estimated $30 million project.

Part of that announcement also confirmed many user’s worst fears, that it would mean the definite selling off of the two current facilities, City and Scully Memorial.

Former Pool Supervisor John Swanston knows all too well how much work is needed on the current facilities, although is one of many that have questioned the cost and legitimacy of building one larger facility to replace two.

“I don’t understand why they can’t do up the two pools that we have. The new one will be 10km from town and cost $30 million – you could do a lot of repairs and upgrades for that,” Mr Swanston said. How much will entry cost for a swim so they can start making that back.” 

A spokesperson for TRC said that it is too early to discuss entry fees.

While price is one issue to be addressed in the future, access is also a concern for many citizens, especially parents of school children who currently walk, or ride bikes, to and from the facilities.

“Part of the planning phase will address concerns about access to and from the facility. Talks with public transport providers will be undertaken to ensure that access is considered,” the spokesperson said. The currently facilities are falling apart and the selling of both facilities will be a critical part of the funding strategy for the new aquatic centre.”

While City Pool would be prime real estate for any developer, there is an obvious favourite to take on Scully Park. Wests Entertainment Group CEO Rod Laing said it had been “casually spoken about with council.”

“It is very early but we could be interested in the possibility,” Mr Laing said.

“Running the pool would not be an option, it would most likely be used for car parking and as an extra training facility for Scully Park.” 

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