The Shoalhaven Community and Recreational Precinct Masterplan was again a topic for discussion at the Shoalhaven City Council Ordinary Meeting held on 6 February 2018 after a briefing was provided to Councillors on 23 January 2018. The Meeting provided the green light to commence more detailed planning and enable grant funding submissions for the Precinct to be prepared. The Masterplan includes the relocation of the croquet courts and connects and integrates the new Indoor Sports Centre, which is currently under construction, with other elements of the plan. The plan includes upgrades playing fields, walking/ cycling track and outdoor spaces along with a 400m athletics track and new community pavilion.
Shoalhaven City Council adopted the Shoalhaven Community and Recreational Precinct Masterplan in two previous meetings with the original report adopted in December 2016, however discussion in the community about the Bomaderry 50-metre pool has led to Council reiterating to the public the facts on the original decision.
The vision for the facility is to deliver an integrated community and recreational precinct to meet the needs of the region, operating on a commercially viable and sustainable basis seven days a week and in reality, vastly improve services in the northern Shoalhaven.
Shoalhaven City Council’s General Manager Russ Pigg said, “The new facility will introduce more water space facilities that will add to the indoor 25-metre eight lane pool to meet Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) requirements for competitions for Regional and State events. The 25-metre pool will have an additional two lanes moving from 6 to 8 lanes. Additional facilities include a hydrotherapy pool with inclusive access that is currently not available in the Northern part of the Shoalhaven, a dedicated learn to swim pool which will remove congestion from the main pool, a beach entry/play pool and a leisure water facility to accommodate the needs of more users, similar to Bay and Basin Leisure Centre and Nowra Aquatic Park Pools. I think there is a misunderstanding in the community, Council plans to increase the overall water space rather than reducing it, the proposed planning will accommodate a broader numbers of user groups than at present and is an overall enhancement of aquatic facilities.
“The Plan provides open space and community facilities such as a community pavilion providing support services that have the potential to provide aquatic, medical, physiotherapy, rehabilitation health, wellness and fitness services. This is a long-term Plan and is intended to meet the needs of a growing community now and into the future.”
Current yearly patronage statistics show that the Bomaderry Aquatic Centre Indoor 25-metre pool is more popular than the outdoor 50-metre pool with less than 10% of patrons utilising the outdoor 50-metre pool.
The current 50-metre pool is at the end of its serviceable life being 41 years old with maintenance costs growing. Rather than simply replace an aging facility, Council believes money is better spent providing additional water space in a different form.
The new Plans meet established planning and provision principles of:
- One local aquatic facility per 10,000 – 40,000 people;
- One district aquatic facility per 40,000 – 70,000 people;
- Providing 1 x 50m pool meets capacity to service needs of northern Shoalhaven now and well into the future.
Public Pool planning and provision principles demonstrate that from Council’s 12 aquatic facilities across the Shoalhaven, there is adequate pool provision for a population of 210,000 to 570,000 residents, that is two to five times more than required.
The close 3km proximity of Nowra Aquatic Park and Bomaderry Aquatic Centres would suggest that maintaining two (2) outdoor 50 metre heated pools so close together would be financially unsustainable with the capital construction costs for an additional 50-metre pool being $7.3 million and ongoing operational costs of $240,000 per annum which would be funded by the ratepayer.
Doug Frost, a renowned Olympic Coach attended a briefing to Councillors in January 2018, and stated “I have produced Olympic champions in a five lane 25-metre pool. The swimming facilities in the Shoalhaven are second to none. Any regional community would be lucky to have facilities like the Shoalhaven has.”
The Shoalhaven Community and Recreational Precinct will bring the sports and community facilities we need to the Northern area and the economic development during construction and operation will bring over 300 jobs to the region.