Pool upgrade gets go ahead

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    Invercargill City Council aquatic services manager Pete Thompson stands where the new Splash Palace changing rooms will be built.

    THE Splash Palace upgrade has been approved and construction is expected to begin within the next financial year (after July 1, 2017).

    Invercargill City Council (ICC) aquatic services manager Pete Thompson said the next step would be to meet with architects and get a detailed design.

    Mr Thompson was pleased the council had approved the upgrade because between 1100 and 1400 people were now using the pool daily.

    “All these people effectively use the changing rooms twice [when they change to enter the pool, and when they dress to leave]. Capacity is a serious issue for us, and to be fair, we struggle with keeping the aquatic centre as clean as we’d like. If we get a coach-load of 20-30 children, the changing rooms are effectively full, and we still have members of the public wanting to use the pool. Understandably, some members of the public feel uncomfortable changing in front of kids – not to mention it can be quite noisy at times,” he said.

    Adding more changing rooms would enable staff to close off areas for more regular cleaning. The changes would also better cater for increasing numbers of elderly and disabled pool-users and would include a new exterior disabled-access ramp, he said.

    The cafe and foyer would also get a facelift.

    ICC strategy and policy manager Melissa Short said the upgrade would cost $1.4 million. This meant the council, by dropping plans to also build a gym extension on the north-east side of the aquatic centre, had saved $600,000 from an original proposed cost of $2m.

    The money for the upgrade would come from the council’s budget for the coming financial year, which was approved on May 23 along with a rates rise of 3.95%.

    Finance and policy committee chairman Cr Darren Ludlow said the rates rise was below an originally proposed rates rise of 4.7%.

    The slight reduction in the rates rise had been achieved by reviewing six proposed projects including the Splash Palace extension.

    Cr Ludlow said the council had reviewed these proposed projects, their costs and whether further savings could be made.

    Councillors had received 60 written and electronic submissions and listened to verbal submissions before making the final decisions about the budget.

    people said during this consultation process they wanted the gym to go ahead, “most people also said they wanted more changing room space”.

    The ICC, through Venture Southland, engaged Impact Consulting and Accounting, of Dunedin, in March 2016 to conduct a feasibility study of the proposed gym as part of the original $2m expansion plan.

    This survey had cost $6042, Mr Thompson said.

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