ICC urged to save Bluff pool

    Bluff Pool Trust representative Ian Sutherland asks Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt and city councillors to keep funding the town's pool during the council's long-term plan hearings this week.

    A SPOTLIGHT shone on the Bluff community pool on the first day of the Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) long-term plan hearings on Tuesday.

    ICC received more than 540 submissions on its 10-year plan with about 65 people, who wanted to speak to their submission, being heard in the next two weeks.

    About 12 people from the Bluff community made submissions to ICC in support of keeping the pool open and of continuing an annual operating fund of at least $120,000.

    Bluff Pool Trust representative Ian Sutherland said the asset was vital for the community.

    “Bluff is surrounded by the sea. Bluff children and adults alike live, work and play near, in and around water.

    “Swimming with confidence is an essential personal skill for all Bluff residents to have.”

    He highlighted the proposal in the plan to build another pool at Invercargill’s Splash Palace, at a cost of $8 million, and believed the council could instead explore opportunities to enhance the use of the Bluff pool instead.

    It was a 25m pool suitable for national competitions, he said.

    Bluff School principal Geoff Folster joined Mr Sutherland in his plea and said pupils used the asset for school activities and also for 30 swimming lessons a year.

    He said it would be very challenging and expensive for the school if the pupils had to travel to Invercargill to use the pool. Some of them were part of Southland squads and were competing at a national level.

    “Recreational activities are limited in Bluff and I feel that the community at present is really supportive of getting kids involved in activities.”

    Another council asset highlighted by submitters on Tuesday was Surrey Park and its grandstand.

    Despite urging ICC to sort safety issues in the grandstand in the past, Waihopai Football Club president Gordon Crombie and Athletics Southland president Chris Knight requested the council delay any decision regarding future plans for the facility.

    Mr Crombie said time was necessary to allow further consultation among the users of Surrey Park to create a better outcome for all.

    “Waihopai AFC is mindful of the fact the request for the delaying of any decision pushes out the timeframe for any redevelopment but we believe that, by doing so, all parties will be able to develop a solution that best meets the needs of our community.”

    Mr Knight agreed and highlighted the proposed capacity of 300 people for the grandstand would not be enough to meet the needs of the community.

    He also said the national body, Athletics New Zealand, wrote a submission showing the proposed cap would deter the city from hosting national level events.

    Ideally, the grandstand should have a capacity for 600 people, he said.

    The hearing continues this week at the ICC chambers.