Pool upgrade figures released

Lexie O'Shea
Lexie O'Shea
Southern District Health Board has released preliminary costings for the physio pool upgrade it claims will cost up to $1 million.

Some pool users have expressed scepticism about the $1 million figure, which is being used to partly justify the decision to close the historic facility.

The preliminary cost estimate, from December 2012, totalled $896,609, but the job would now be ''closer to $1 million,'' patient services director Lexie O'Shea said.

It comprised $246,609 for changing rooms and tiles, $500,000 for upgrades and mechanical work, and $150,000 for professional fees, consents, and contingencies. Additionally, the cost for concrete slab repairs would only be known once the pool tiles were lifted. Mrs O'Shea said the board used external expertise as well as board staff for the estimates.

The upgrade involved upgrading and redeveloping the showers and changing rooms, upgrading or replacing the steam heating systems and circulation pipework, mechanical plant replacements, and installing new tiles in the pool.

Mrs O'Shea said no decisions had been made about the building's future, should it become vacant.

The board is also citing an annual operating shortfall of about $100,000 as another reason for the decision.

Health board chairman Joe Butterfield, of Timaru, said the deficit-ridden board ''probably'' should have pulled out of funding the pool years ago. It was not part of the board's ''mandate'' to run a physio pool, although he did sympathise with pool users.

''We really don't want to see it go, but we can't afford to maintain it.''

The board had given the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust and Dunedin community enough notice to find an alternative source of funding, he said.

''For it to work, the users are going to have to get together and rally round. We can't pay for it. It's really as simple as that,'' Mr Butterfield said.

Health board member Richard Thomson was hopeful yesterday the pool community and Dunedin City Council could work with the health board to find a solution to keep the pool open.

Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin, who was asked to comment on the costings, said yesterday he had not had time to respond. The trust, which operates the pool, wants the upgrade to be carried out in stages over up to 10 years.

Asset sales

What were our assets sold for again?

What the . . ?

What can possibly be funded by the DHB for the same amount of money and benefit more people while reducing downstream costs?

Physio pool

The board should not make, nor be able to just make such a critical for Dunedin Citizens. The SDHB board including its members should not even contemplate closing a vital facility without open frank consultation first least of all a Chair from Timaru. SDHB must make the time for proper steps to be taken.

Has an independent cost benefit analysis of the Physio Pool been done? Hard facts about use and benefits are necessary for Citizens and users and the SDHB to look at before decisions are made.

The 1 million cost to repair the Physio pool is not a huge amount. Some costs or work may be contributed to by sponsors, businesses. The rests by The Community Trust, Sports trusts, and various other funders and through a vigorous Local fundraising campaign.  A plan for future maintenance costs can be made.

Additionally the annual operating shortfall of about $100,000 can be easily found in charging various types of user fees or donations.

In future if SDHB does not manage the facility then SDBH or Health providers will have to pay for the cost of patients to use the pool. [abridged]

Time to count pool users

Now that it has been revealed that counters were used to look for cyclists to count to justify spending money on a seasonal facility (cycle lanes) that almost 800 people were spotted using, perhaps they can count the people using the physio pool over the same period and then apportion the same amount of funding allocated to the cycle lanes. That ought to see the facility funded for the foreseeable future at least.

Need a search party

So why is the chairman of the hospital board from Timaru?  Surely we voted in someone who actually lives here, someone who understands Dunedin's issues. Instead we seem to have been gifted an unelected National Party hack employed to put the screws on us and take away as many services as possible.

If only we had a Cabinet Minister, a health professional who is from Dunedin and understands Dunedin's problems, someone to go to bat for us ... Oh wait, we do, but as people keep pointing out he is Missing In Action. Send out a search party

Gizza go, gizza fair go!

"Health board chairman Joe Butterfield, of Timaru, said the deficit-ridden board ''probably'' should have pulled out of funding the pool years ago. It was not part of the board's ''mandate'' to run a physio pool, although he did sympathise with pool users." What is their responsibility towards people who use it for therapeutic purposes? Is it in the board's "mandate" to return injured people to best possible mobility and wellbeing? Is it the board's "mandate" to facilitate preventative maintenance on humans with ongoing health issues so as to prevent or delay their need for more drastic treatment to deal with pain and disability that is past being ignored even by the most stringent points-based system?

Further information on precisely what the board is "mandated" to do with its budget would be helpful for those of us struggling to see the sense in closing this facility.

Something else that would be helpful is a breakdown of the costs. "It comprised $246,609 for changing rooms and tiles, $500,000 for upgrades and mechanical work, and $150,000 for professional fees, consents, and contingencies." How much of that is necessary, how much is desirable but can be postponed, is there any of the work e.g. upgrading of changing rooms that could be done by local firms crowdfunded at (perhaps) a mates rates price by those of us who care? What if those of us who care but can't do much promised really brilliant home-made morning and afternoon teas for all workers?

What if the DCC severely cut - or donated freebies - for any consents?

Sometimes down-home solutions can be found for problems when bureaucrats take their jackboot off the community's oxygen tube. In the chaos of Christchurch amazing things were done when officialdom was otherwise occupied.

Not good enough

So the reason that it is being closed is that the changing rooms are not flash enough and the tiles would look better if they were new. And the showers would be nice if they were improved. Upgrading or replacing the steam heating systems and circulation pipework and mechanical plant replacements sounds like the only things that are not nice to haves and really are they so broken and unworkable that the pool is no longer functional?

How come it is working great when I go there and how come I have never heard of a complaint like "they should close this place down with showers like these". Sounds like a ready-made excuse for a cost cutting exercise to me.

Don't believe it.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Pen-y-bryn LodgeOamaruLodges
Milton Cottages (Independent Flats)MiltonRetirement & Rest Homes
Blueskin Mowers & ChainsawsWaitatiSpecialist Trades