Roxburgh $2.5m swim centre rejected

Past its used by date . . . The old Roxburgh Swimming Pool. Photo by Rose Manins
Past its used by date . . . The old Roxburgh Swimming Pool. Photo by Rose Manins
The Roxburgh Community Board has resolved not to build a $2.5 million swim centre in Roxburgh after hearing submissions yesterday.

Chairman Stephen Jeffery said the board favoured option four - a $2.5 million two-pool swim centre funded by a trust, with $40,000 running costs funded by the community board.

"All of us would have loved option four, but we are a small population base and at the end of the day, it had become a wish list. It was beyond us as a community financially."

Mr Jeffery said the board was still committed to providing a paddlers' pool and a swimming pool, and would instead go back and look at reports on the state of the present pool to see if it was sound enough to renovate.

"Maybe it's beyond redemption, but our focus for now is still to supply a paddlers' pool and a swimming pool. We're committed to doing that."

The board heard submissions from more than 10 residents at a meeting in the town yesterday, during which community members expressed their preference for one of four options made available by the board.

New Zealand's unstable economic climate and the possibility Roxburgh's Health Camp would close were cited as reasons against a proposed $2.5 million swim centre.

Roxburgh resident Rod Lambert likened the most expensive option (option four) to Dunedin's proposed Awatea St stadium.

"It is unnecessarily grand given the lack of wealth of most people in the Teviot Valley, the small population, and the possibility of the Roxburgh Health Camp, our biggest employer, being closed. It may be appropriate for Remuera, but it would be a huge burden on Roxburgh," Mr Lambert said.

He said the existing pool should remain unchanged until the nation's economy stabilised, at which time development options should be reassessed depending on people's financial situations.

Roxburgh resident and former board member John Rowley said each child in Roxburgh needed an appropriate facility in which to learn how to swim, and a heated, covered pool would also be appreciated by visitors to the town.

"There's no argument that this is what the community needs. For Roxburgh to achieve real growth we desperately need a new pool and now is the time to build.

"It's a case of prioritising the rates we pay to the benefit of the community. There's no way we are going to move ahead with tourism if we don't have the corresponding facilities," Mr Rowley said.

Fellow submitter Charles Ell said half of Roxburgh's population was over 60 years old, and those people would not utilise a new swimming pool enough to warrant its cost.

"I can't see for the life of me how a new swimming pool is going to turn Roxburgh into a teeming metropolis from the sleepy hollow it is," Mr Ell said.

Of the four options available to submitters, option four, comprising two pools, was favoured by 35 people.

The swim centre would cost about $2.5 million to build, and about $140,000 to run annually.

Thirty-eight of the total 73 submitters were opposed to such an expensive complex, mostly due to the corresponding increase in rates, which could go up as much as $100 a year for some property owners.

Initial estimates put an upgrade of the existing pool, situated near the town's secondary school, at $800,000.

Board member John Lane said the proposed Roxburgh pool complex was similar in cost to Alexandra's Molyneux Aquatic Centre, but Roxburgh's population of about 600 people could not compete with Alexandra's population of more than 5000.

"Last year the Molyneux centre had 78,000 users and the Roxburgh pool had 1700," he said.

• The board also approved a budget overspend of $18,000 to provide a water heating system and minor repairs to solar panels of the Roxburgh pool.

 

Swim centre options

• Option one: A two-pool swim centre to be funded entirely by a local trust ($2.5million).

• Option two: Do nothing and remain with the status quo.

• Option three: Chose not to build a swim centre and close the existing pool.

• Option four: A two-pool swim centre to be funded by a trust ($2.5 million) and the Roxburgh Community Board to fund the running costs ($40,000 per annum).

 

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