Chronicle set to fight for pool
MARYBOROUGH pool users are desperately trying to drown council plans to have the city’s 50-metre public pool demolished and replaced with two 25-metre pools.
Today the Chronicle joins the fight as we launch a “Save the Pool” campaign.
We have already run a number of stories voicing residents’ concerns over the possible demise of a 50-metre pool and we continue that today.
Former national swimming champion and local swimming club member Bradley Byrne said the loss of the public 50-metre pool would make it difficult, if not impossible, for aspiring swimmers to reach their dreams.
He knows what it takes.
The 21-year-old contested six semi-finals and one final during the Olympic trials in Sydney in 2008 and represented Australia in the Oceania Swimming Championships the same year.
“I think it’s the worst idea (the council) could ever do,” Mr Byrne said.
“It’s just due to the fact there are kids who want to get to the top and they’re not going to be able to do that swimming in a 25-metre pool.
“There are a lot of new young swimmers coming through who are doing pretty well at the moment.
“Take (current club champion) Sally Wheeler for example – she’d have to move pools. She wouldn’t be able to train here.”
Mr Byrne said parents of young competitors would also be burdened by the loss of Maryborough’s 50-metre pool, with twice-daily drives to Hervey Bay for their children’s swimming training.
“They’re talking about travelling to Hervey Bay but the council has got to think about parents who have to get down there and sit there for two hours while they watch their kids train, twice a day every day.”
Mr Byrne said club swimmers were not alone in their disapproval of the proposed downgrading of the 50-metre pool.
The loss of the Olympic size pool would mean the loss of school swimming carnivals and regional competitions.
“It’s not just all to do with the swimming club,” Mr Byrne said.
“A good proportion of the public would rather swim in a 50-metre pool and then there’s the Maryborough Aussi Masters, triathletes, schools and rugby league sides who swim for fitness.
“During summer when everyone wants to train, there wouldn’t be enough room for anyone in the proposed 25-metre pools and it’d turn people away.”
Cracks in the ageing aquatic centre, built in the 1960s on the corner of John and Kent streets, mean valuable water is consistently being lost. The system’s pipes are also corroded.
Plans to revamp the centre were first floated in the late 1990s.
Over the past decade the former Maryborough City Council grappled with alternative plans which included negotiating with the adjoining bowling club and defence force but both proposed deals failed to secure the extra land needed for expansion.
Another idea to turn John Street into a one-way street and expand the aquatic centre on to the current footpath also came to nothing.
Fraser Coast councillor Gerard O’Connell said yesterday one of the recommendations given in the 2006 Maryborough Sport and Recreation Plan was to demolish the 50-metre pool and have two 25-metre pools instead.
“We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the public and there’s a diversity of thought,” Mr O’Connell said.
“Personally, I don’t believe we should replace a 50-metre pool with anything but a 50-metre pool.”
He said the council’s “preferred option” was one of two plans and was by no means final.
“People need to voice their opinions.”
The aquatic centre usually hosts swimming carnivals for local primary and high schools plus two regional carnivals a year, each attracting 300 to 400 swimmers and their families to the town.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council leases the aquatic centre to the Maryborough Swimming Club, which employs a manager.