Hamilton City Council's stance could sink Municipal Pools upgrade

Last ditch attempt to save much-loved complex

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 10:37 23/07/2013
 Hamilton’s Municipal Pools
FAIRFAX NZ

Glory days: The last hope for Hamilton’s Municipal Pools complex is a multimillion-dollar makeover which could result in it being reopened after last year’s closure because of maintenance issues.

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Efforts to fundraise millions of dollars to rebuild Hamilton's Municipal Pools are hamstrung by the lack of committed council funding.

Municipal Pools supporters have unveiled a $6.8 million plan that may save Hamilton's much-loved but neglected central-city pool complex.

The Victoria St complex has suffered from years of maintenance neglect and closed last year after a series of mechanical and structural failings.

Pools lobby group Sink or Swim and city architect Mark Wassung have now come up with a concept plan that would see the century-old complex renovated and rebuilt in three major stages, the first estimated at $4.1m, but say securing external funders without council backing is impossible.

The city council in December passed up the chance to commit to some form of rescue package for the pools, instead deferring a decision until February 2014 and asking pool supporters to come up with a plan and funding.

Stage one includes demolition of the existing large pool, which is considered beyond repair, and the development of new changing rooms, office space, green space and relocation of the existing plant, with a projected cost of $4.1m plus GST.

Stage two would involve the construction of a new 25-metre pool suitable for junior swimming education, construction of a cafe or restaurant and a grandstand upgrade, costing a further $1.4m plus GST.

Stage three includes boutique office space next to the pools and the Celebrating Age Centre, at an estimated cost of $1.3m.

Sink or Swim spokesperson Katherine Luketina said that potential external funders for the pools had baulked at contributing without a council-funding commitment.

"It's a council facility and, without council funding, external funders will not fund it to any extent," she said.

Mayor Julie Hardaker told the Waikato Times the situation had not changed since December, with an over-arching regional sports facilities plan still to be completed to give politicians the "big picture".

"I want to see what all the information looks like so I can see the big picture. I'm not going to make ad-hoc decisions," said Ms Hardaker.

No decisions on any redevelopment of the municipal pools would be made until the facilities plan was completed over the next six months, said city community development and leisure manager Deanne McManus-Emery.

A review of the city's partner pools programme is also yet to be done.

Council lawyers have already advised that public consultation would be required on any plans for the future of the municipal pools. 


Do you think Hamilton City Council should save the Munis Pools? Let us know in the comments below.

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