The heat is on over the immediate future of the Otago
Therapeutic Pool, in Dunedin.
The Southern District Health Board and the Otago Therapeutic
Pool Trust are at odds over how long the pool can be safely
used before its future is decided.
The board says there is a health and safety issue in not
draining the pool at the end of this year, but the trust
wants to wait until the middle of next year, and says it is
safe for the public to use.
The trust says it would benefit from the extra time to find a
solution to the pool's future.
When the pool is drained it is expected some of the tiles
will fall away, triggering the spending of up to $400,000 of
an estimated $1 million upgrade.
The health board yesterday considered the matter at a meeting
in Dunedin, but resolved little except agreeing to encourage
discussion with the trust and the Dunedin City Council.
Board members largely expressed little enthusiasm for keeping
the pool, or at least for the financial risk it posed.
Board members Richard Thomson and Dr John Chambers, both of
Dunedin, spoke in its favour.
Mr Thomson said the board's tone should change to emphasise
''hope and opportunity'' around keeping the pool.
The board, described yesterday as ''broke'' by chairman Joe
Butterfield, says it cannot afford the pool's $100,000 annual
operating shortfall, or the required upgrade.
Trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin said the pool, which
has not been drained for 18 months, was not a health and
He said the board was too focused on the required capital
spending of up to $1 million, which could be fundraised.
The board should contribute to the running costs of the pool,
the level of which could be negotiated.
''The value of this facility is well founded and widely
recognised among those who work in the health sector and folk
in the Dunedin and Otago communities,'' Mr Martin said.
''It is too precious to allow a cost-saving agenda across the
breadth of SDHB to end it.''
After the meeting, Mr Martin said he had considered the
deadline, and while December was long enough to find a
solution, he would prefer more time. The pool's water met
''I also want to consult the DCC about the advice from SDHB
management that for health reasons the pool must be emptied
at the end of this year.''
''This aspect appeared to dominate the chairman's reasoning
to stay with the end of year deadline,'' Mr Martin said.
''I am not sure that the board members - apart from a couple
- took on my submission about who needs to fund the capital
''It appears to me that this is still affecting their
judgement and their decision to close the pool.''
Earlier, Mr Butterfield told board members the pool must be
drained at the end of the year as it posed a health and
safety risk. Draining it would initiate upgrade work the
board could not afford, as it had severely limited capital
Mr Butterfield said he had shifted deliberations on the pool
into the public section of yesterday's meeting, because of
the publicity generated by its possible closure.
It was revealed yesterday the decision to close the pool was
made in a public-excluded health board session in May.