Call for new pools for city

The Dunedin City Council should seek new ways to cash in on swimmers at Moana Pool, as well as building a pool at Mosgiel and a high-performance training pool at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, a consultants' report has suggested.

The report, by SGL Group New Zealand Ltd, recommended redeveloping parts of Moana Pool to include a new cafe and a "wellness" day spa, offering massage and beauty therapy, to help boost revenue at the complex.

A similar redevelopment should also be considered at the St Clair Salt Water Pool, and a new pool built to replace the ageing community facility at Mosgiel.

An inner-city training pool for high-performance athletes should also be considered at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, it said.

Regular fee increases above CPI (Consumer Price Index) should also be considered to boost revenue at Moana Pool, the report said.

The consultants' report - presenting the findings of a study examining the city's pools and future needs - was requested by the council after members of the public spoke out about the state of the city's aquatic facilities during long-term council community plan hearings.

The report will be considered by councillors at a meeting of the community development committee tomorrow.

Contacted last night, Mayor Peter Chin stressed the report was a first step in a long process which would include public consultation, and the timing and affordability of any projects that eventuated would be key considerations.

"The desire may well be there to do some of those things, but it all comes back to the timing and affordability.

"At the moment, in terms of our financial situation, it's a fairly full book of commitments," he said.

Cr Paul Hudson, chairman of the community development committee, said there was "a lot of discussion to take place" before the preliminary report would lead to specific projects being undertaken.

However, he signalled he would not personally support large hikes in pool fees, to match those in other New Zealand and Australian centres.

"The pool is a community facility and, as such, it's got to be affordable by the community."

The study concluded many of the city's pools were struggling under the weight of growing visitor numbers, with overcrowding for significant portions of the day, although overall visitor satisfaction levels remained high.

There were about 752,000 visits to the city's four main pools in the 2008-09 year, up 106,764 (16.5%) in just four years, with most (660,000 or 87%) using Moana Pool.

However, revenue earned from visitors remained low, averaging just $4.16 per visitor across the four main pools and $4.46 per visitor at Moana Pool alone.

The low spend contributed to an average net operating deficit - before rates were added - of $4.94 across the pools in 2008-09, or $5.12 at Moana Pool alone.

As a result, the report recommended adding a new cafe and spa, as well as considering "regular fee increases" to boost revenue at Moana Pool.

A wider range of higher-revenue programmes should also be added, to further boost returns, and Moana Pool's old dive pool redeveloped for use as a hot water programme pool.

A telephone survey of households found 45.8% of respondents rated the Mosgiel pool as "poor" or "very poor", due to its age, condition and limited space.

A replacement facility would need to be considered by an in-house review group during 2010-11 and approved by councillors, with a rough time line envisaging a new complex completed sometime during 2013 to 2015, the report said.

Planning for an inner-city stadium training pool would require input and support from the University of Otago, stadium officials and the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island, working together as a review group, the report said.

A shared-funding agreement and council approval would be needed before a site within the stadium development could be reserved, the report said.

The pool, if it proceeded, could be expected some time between 2016 and 2020.

Other developments could happen sooner, with a final report to the council on changes to the old dive pool at Moana Pool able to be considered by December this year.

Final reports on the possible development of cafes at Moana Pool and St Clair pool could follow by February next year, but those on the potential development of wellness centres at the two pools could take until 2013-14.

Reports examining the possibility of raising fees and investigating other revenue streams would be considered this year and next.

Councillors at tomorrow's meeting were expected to form a working party to scrutinise the consultant's work, and would report back to the committee in July.


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