Community & Business

8 November, 2023

Urgent action needed on Garnet pool closure

PRESSURE is mounting to open the Mt Garnet swimming pool, with Tablelands Regional Councillors demanding urgent action to re-open the facility which has been closed for more than three years.

By Robyn Holmes

Urgent action needed on Garnet pool closure - feature photo

The pool was shut in March 2020, but despite the fact no one uses it, council has continued to spend thousands of dollars every year to service it, prompting Cr Dave Bilney to ask questions about it in February and call for a report.

At the time, officers said there were issues getting life savers for the pool.

A report on the issue has not eventuated and at October’s meeting, more questions were being asked as to what the hold-up was in getting the pool re-opened.

Cr Peter Hodge initiated the discussion, saying a teacher at the local school had asked him what was happening with the venue, as the kids were no longer able to participate in learn to swim classes.

An officer told council an assessment had been conducted which showed the pool, which is around 50 years of age, was “beyond economic repair” and council was staring down the barrel at a full replacement of the pool.

The replacement cost would be in the vicinity of $970,000 which did not include the demolition of the existing pool.

CEO Gary Rinehart said a workshop was planned for the near future to go through all the options but Cr Annette Haydon asked for that to happen “sooner than later”, given school children were not able to participate in swim lessons.

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew asked whether children could still use the pool, which is still filled with treated water, but officers advised it was deemed unsafe, revealing that the lining of the pool had holes in it.

“We’re losing water through the holes in the lining and we don’t want kids sucked behind the lining,” Infrastructure services general manager Mark Vis said.

He said the pool was not a concrete structure so it could not be fixed easily, and the liner had deteriorated over time due to the use of chlorine and its exposure to the sun.

Councillors also questioned why the pool was still full if it was not being used, requiring the water to be treated with costly chemicals so it does not form algae.

“We have been keeping the pool filled with water because if we empty it, in wet conditions it might pop out of the ground,” Mr Vis said, adding they had decided to keep it full in the hope it might have been repairable.

An inspection by a qualified pool company had now indicated the pool would need to be replaced.

“So now a choice has to be made - if we deem it to be completely unrepairable, which we believe is the case, we could empty it and let it go and make the decision to replace it or not,” Mr Vis advised.

Cr Cardew urged officers to move urgently to hold the workshop so a report could come back to the November meeting.

“I would like to see some specific detail on a couple of different options as opposed to spending a million bucks ripping out something that’s there and putting in a new structure when we might be able to modify the existing structure at a much cheaper cost and achieve the same result,” he said.

Cr Haydon said she was aware that the school’s P&C had already sought a quote to fix the pool and would provide that information to officers. It is understood one of the options council may consider is to allow the school or the P&C to manage the pool in a similar model to Malanda.

Cr Cardew said he wanted some action immediately on the matter, acknowledging how frustrating it must be for Mt Garnet locals.

“I really want some urgency put on this – in my mind, we’ve got a reasonably sound structure up there, we still maintain it to a level so it can be used insofar as water quality – it’s frustrating for the people of Mt Garnet,” he said.

“They drive past this thing every single day, see clear blue water in that pool and nobody using it.”

Community spokesperson Heidi Richards says the town is eager to get the pool reopened and is happy some urgency is being placed on the issue.

“It’s frustrating for locals – we can see the grass is neatly mowed and the water looks cool and inviting but the pool can’t be used,” she said.

“It’s important for not just the kids, but our visitors and for people who used to use the pool for therapy.”

Ms Richards believes the pool lining was replaced around seven years ago for a cost of approximately $40,000 and hopes the council will determine a way forward quickly to get the facility back open.


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