THE long-awaited multimillion-dollar upgrade of Gunnedah pool has been delayed by another year, after council was forced to re-issue its call for tenders.
It’s yet another delay that has left user groups fuming, but Gunnedah Shire Council (GSC) insists it wants to get it right because ratepayers want value for money.
Council approved plans for the $7.8 million first stage of the Gunnedah Memorial Pool Complex upgrade – including a new 50m, eight-lane pool and new children’s play areas – in November 2015.
A development application for a $14 million redevelopment of the pool, which sought approval for two stages – the $7.8 million first stage and a second $6.2 million stage, which was yet to be funded – was lodged in April 2016.
User groups thought they were one step closer to their new 50m pool when GSC called for tenders for the first stage of construction in October last year.
But the process only garnered one response, and GSC went back to the market in February this year to re-issue the call for tenders.
The delay has now pushed the expected completion date back from December 2017 to December 2018.
Swimming instructor Barbara Williams, of Gunnedah Fun and Fitness, sat on the working committee for the project, and is frustrated it is taking so long.
“We’re still unsure when it’s going to happen,” she said.
“It would be nice if they could stick to the plan.
“I’ve been in this town nine years and when I first got here, they were talking about this upgrade.
“I’m frustrated with the whole thing.”
GSC special projects manager Mike Silver confirmed council had received three submissions for the upgrade since it went back out to the market in February, and has since narrowed that down to two.
“We’re having discussions and negotiations with them now regarding price and also their scope of works to be undertaken,” Mr Silver said.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit more time now in terms of when the project will actually start.”
Mr Silver anticipated a report would go before council in July.
It is yet to be determined whether the project will deviate from the planned budget.
“We’re not anticipating revised prices or adjustments until probably the early part of July,” Mr Silver said.
“Clearly within the project, as it was tendered both last year and in the re-issue this year, there were a number of options.”
Gunnedah Swimming Club president Brian Coombs hoped the project would be delivered sooner rather than later.
“It is good they want to get it right,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to it being finished and hoping it is what they say it’s going to be.”
Mr Silver said GSC would “maintain public swimming facilities at the pool as best it possibly could” during the construction period, but conceded there could be disruptions.
“We’re very confident that can be achieved because effectively the majority of the works surround the 50-metre pool and the outdoor elements,” he said.
“The indoor pool will remain active for much of that contract period.”
Mr Silver is confident the council-funded project will go ahead because the money has already been budgeted for.
“Obviously the community is going to want to see the best value for money and council wants to try and live within its means so they’re the two prime considerations at this point of time.”