The plans for the new Crookwell Multipurpose Aquatic and Activities Centre (MAAC) will limit the use of the 25-m pool to five months of the year.
Since the Upper Lachlan Shire’s swimming pool was closed in 2020 the town has been left with nowhere to swim leaving residents to travel more than 40 km to their nearest pool.
Wheeo resident Catherine Culley takes her children to squad training at Boorowa.
“I have driven to Goulburn and, in more recent years Boorowa every single week for the past 11 years, all year long,” she said.
The MAAC will have a six-lane, 25-m outdoor pool, an indoor heated pool nearly 17 m long and a toddler pool with interactive jets and a water umbrella. The complex will cost around $5 million and will be funded by state and federal government grants.
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Upper Lachlan Shire Council (ULSC) Mayor Pam Kensit put forward a motion at the March council meeting to investigate using solar to warm the outdoor pool and extend the swimming season.
ULSC general manager Colleen Worthy reported infrastructure was in place for future heating of the pool, if it became financially viable.
“In the interim funding is being sought for new pool blankets for all three pools, pool covers were included in the design for all pools.”
The frequently asked questions page on the council website claimed heating an outdoor pool was “unaffordable”.
“ULSC has a low population base and often long, cold winters which makes it expensive to financially run – council cannot afford an outdoor heated pool,” it read.
“The pool has to be affordable, accessible and sustainable in the short and long term. When the outdoor pool is built it has to be affordable for residents and visitors and council must maintain the facilities predominantly within existing operational budget, which is already stretched.
“Investigation and costing for that… will be prepared in the coming months to review installation costs, running costs and fee for service required in the future to install and run a heated outdoor pool.”
Cr Kensit reiterated that the complex would include a 16.67-m heated swimming pool. “This is the size of heated pool we can afford to sustain and run for our ratepayers,” she said.
In 2020, a report showed the two existing outdoor pools were non-compliant with today’s safety and environmental standards. The council elected to rebuild the entire complex, announcing a $5 million redevelopment.
However, residents have slammed the project, accusing the council of ignoring consultation by not heating the 25-m pool for the entire year and including a hydrotherapy pool.
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Catherine Culley said it was a “terrible” decision, especially since “the pool is probably going to be here well into the next century”.
“I, along with many other parents, will still be making the trip to neighbouring councils to take kids to swimming lessons, squad and swim club,” she said.
“Imagine what the kids in Crookwell could do if they had a decent heated pool that they could train in all year.”
Resident Robin Wirth said she was advised by a medical expert to exercise daily in a heated pool.
“The price of petrol alone is prohibitive, add that to the time for travel – I can’t afford this,” she said.
Other residents said that an indoor heated facility with large roller doors that opened in summer, similar to Narooma Swimming Pool, would be more suitable to the Crookwell climate.
An indoor heated pool complex was built by the Blayney Shire Council with a 25-m pool and hydrotherapy pool and the Junee Shire Council has an 50-m indoor pool which converts to a 25-m pool in winter via a boom. Both areas have a similar population to the Upper Lachlan Shire.