Council eyes up school pools
Repair costs may weigh against repairing Municipal Pools, writes Daniel Adams.
School pools could be heated and upgraded by ratepayers in return for public access if Hamilton's ailing Municipal Pools prove too expensive to reopen.
Council staff have held initial talks with six Hamilton schools and Waikato University about expanding the limited "partner pools" programme to provide additional year-round heated lane space to replace the central city complex.
Councillors spooked by the prospect of a huge repair bill last month ordered the century-old pools complex closed while a major leak was investigated.
Estimates to reopen the historic but poorly maintained pools had soared to $500,000, and concerns the leak had carved out a void beneath the central city complex raised fears the complex will never reopen.
A proposed rescue plan which would have put the pools in the hands of a trust which intended revamping the complex has now been withdrawn.
Council community general manager Lance Vervoort said investigations had already identified "quite a number" of leaks, although a report back to council with robust detailed option costs was some time away. "We're hoping to report back on those full costs, capex and also the operation of the pool, looking at the benefits and risk involved. We're also bringing back the options to create a similar amount of lane space elsewhere."
He said heating school pools and providing additional changing facilities were the key issues identified in initial talks with the schools involved.
"We need to do further work looking into all the options around that. Cost is going to come into that, and the other thing we need to weigh up is how much access would council get to those pools in any deal that was done.
"That's one option, and that would be for council as to whether it wants to go down that path."