South Wairarapa pools safe, for now

PIERS FULLER
Last updated 09:42 07/11/2012

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Martinborough and Greytown swimming pools are safe for now with South Wairarapa District Council ignoring parts of a report that suggested their closure.

South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples wants to reassure people that there were no plans to close town pools and that they have a robust water quality testing regime in place.

An Opus International Consulting report released last week spelt out several options for the future of South Wairarapa's three public swimming pools, one of which described closing two pools as a "possible acceptable outcome" while upgrading a third.

The report also said urgent action was required to get proper water testing procedures in place.

Mrs Staples says the Opus report contained "a lot of inaccuracies" with regard to the water testing situation.

"We want the officers to revisit some of things that are in it. One of the major inaccuracies was that we didn't test our pools and that they were a public health hazard, which is not true," she says.

If any decision was to be made to close any pools, it would need to go through the Long Term Plan process involving public consultation.

"It's certainly not an option that we're considering in the short term," she says.

The council will have to discuss exactly how it is going to deal with its pools in the future and this has to be done with a regional wide perspective taking into account the facilities available in the rest of Wairarapa, says the mayor.

"Obviously everybody wants to keep all three pools open- that's what the community is telling us, but we have to actually have to have the conversation with the community and say 'OK, we can do that, but this is what it is going to cost and are you prepared to pay for it?'," she says.

Mrs Staples says even though certain communities may think it is a good idea to upgrade their complex or cover their pool for year round swimming, this may not be the best plan for swimming across the region.

"People with interests in all three pools in South Wairarapa would like them covered. It's beyond the district to pay for that, and it's also silly.

"We need to look at Wairarapa swimming needs as a whole - not just what individual towns want," she says.

The council has limited funds at its disposal to spend on pool maintenance within this current year's budget and it would need to set aside funding for more substantial improvements in future annual plan budgets.

"We can't suddenly turn around and says 'that's a good idea' and spend another hundred grand'.

"We've set our budgets and we've set the rates so we need to know what we can do."

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