New pool bogged down in bureaucracy

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 12:41 21/03/2014
Eastern pool locations map

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Paul Zaanen and Tim Sintes
FRUSTRATED: Paul Zaanen and Tim Sintes

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The East

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Plans for a new multimillion-dollar pool in the east are becoming bogged down in bureaucracy as city councillors struggle to make a decision on where to build it.

An extraordinary meeting of the council's community committee was held this morning so that a decision could be made on the best process for determining a site for the pool, but after hearing a raft of deputations the committee - which by the time it came down to the vote had been whittled down to just two members - decided it needed to hold a workshop to explore the issues further.

''They're just going round and round in circles,'' said Tim Sintes, a Burwood-Pegasus Community Board member who has been pushing to get a pool built in New Brighton.

The problem the council faces is that there are three distinct camps pushing for a pool in their part of the east.

One camp wants the pool built on the old QEII site, one wants it built in New Brighton, preferably on the foreshore, and the other wants in the Linwood/Woolston area.

There is $30.5 million on the council's books for a new pool in the east, plus another $6.5 million from the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Trust. It was originally envisaged that money would be spent on one pool but there are now hints it could be split.

Paul Zaanen, from the New Brighton Business and Landowners Association, told the committee they had been shocked to learn that Central New Brighton School was being considered as a site option for a pool.

The association had spent months working on plans for an aquatic facility on the foreshore of New Brighton and had engaged international experts to develop plans but it had struggled to even get a meeting with council staff to discuss their concept.

Their plan had the "wow'' factor and the council already owned the land.

Eleanor Bodger, from WOW Brighton, said all previous discussions about a potential New Brighton location for the pool had focused on either the foreshore or the Countdown site. The option of locating it at Central Brighton School had "come out of the blue'' and had left the group horrified.

Robert Jugovac, who spoke on behalf of the Parklands, Avondale, Dallington, Tumara Park and Waitakiri residents associations, said life in the east was a daily grind and residents were hurting.

"People need somewhere to go and they need it quickly,'' said Jugovac, who pleaded with the council to make a quick decision on where to site the pool.

Jugovac said the groups he represented all supported the pool being sited at QE2.

"The budget needs to be spent in one place. We are opposed to splitting it into some Graham Condon-style facility in different places,'' he said.

Burwood-Pegasus Community Board chairwoman Andrea Cummings said many residents saw the building of a new pool in the east as intrinsically linked to their emotional recovery.

"Burwood-Pegasus residents feel there is a real threat to getting an aquatic facility,'' said Cummings, who urged the committee to ensure the process for picking a location was open and transparent rather than "politicised and adversarial''.

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If the council followed the process recommended by staff, one community would get "its expectations raised and then dashed'', Cummings warned.

Burwood-Pegasus councillor David East, who is not a member of the community committee but attended yesterday's meeting, said he had many concerns about the site selection process and felt the goal posts moved all the time.

"We need some element of total independence in this process,'' East said.

- The Press

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