Claim pool support still strong

Dale Wyber
Dale Wyber
Community stakeholders have said a new Milton pool remains on the cards, despite apparent negative community sentiment filling a recent information void.

Three members of the Bruce Community Facilities Trust spoke to their submissions at Clutha District Council long-term plan hearings in Balclutha yesterday.

They said, despite an apparent hiatus in the project, design work and fundraising were continuing behind the scenes.

Community support remained strong, despite the "negativity" of a vocal minority.

Trust member Dale Wyber said the trust was waiting for final design costs from the council before it could push forward with grants and other funding.

"I believe we’ve shown throughout all our fundraising that we have significant community support. We now need the fixed design to push the project forward."

The community had raised about $160,000 of a $2million local target, and grants were likely to amount to a further $1.5m-plus of that sum, she said.

Although the project comprised a $14m combined pool and library-service centre complex, community fundraising would be earmarked for the pool element only.

The council is expected to fund the balance through rates.

Fellow trustee Nigel Woodhead said progress on the pool and other improvements for Milton-Bruce was not the responsibility of the council alone.

Milton’s current amenity deficits were the result of decisions made "20 years ago", he said, and he appealed to the council not to "make the same mistakes".

"Don’t take the foot off the pedal now. It’s not just about council — it’s down to the community too. The community has to pull its finger out, and have the confidence to do so."

The complex would only increase in cost if delayed, he said.

"We’ve already gone from $10million to $12million, to 15-20 [million], and it’s not going to get any cheaper."

Trustee Kim Schiller, initially speaking to her submission on behalf of Project Bruce, warned against those regarding the new pool as a "frivolous" expenditure, and an easy project to cut to save money.

Cr Simon McAtamney asked Mrs Schiller at what price point the community might prefer to cancel the project.

She said she felt the community shared her view that paying for community amenities was a positive way to spend rates.

"I believe the design has been whittled down to deliver the most effective facility for the money."

Milton was at a "crossroads" where its amenities, businesses and tourist appeal were poised to catch up with the positivity of its community, she said.

Hearings continue at council chambers from 9am today, and resume on Tuesday.