Physio pool options criticised

Dunedin’s physiotherapy pool remains closed as some disagree about how replacement options should...
Dunedin’s physiotherapy pool remains closed as some disagree about how replacement options should be presented to the public. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
A veteran civic leader and champion of local interests has expressed his dismay at a recent survey about options for Dunedin’s physiotherapy pool.

Former Dunedin deputy mayor John Bezett, MNZM, said in his opinion the three options provided in the survey went beyond the remit of the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust.

The three options presented in the survey could lead people to believe the best choices were option two, creating a replacement hydrotherapy pool, or option three, establishing a new multi-feature hydrotherapy centre, he said.

He believed the trust could be leading people to view option one, full redevelopment of the existing physiotherapy pool, as the worst choice.

His perception was the original brief of the trust was to simply raise funds and get support for reinstatement of the existing pool.

In his view, there was still wide support to reinstate the current pool and that option was not being given the attention it deserved.

Mr Bezett noted constructing a new pool could cost tens of millions and take 10 to 15 years to complete.

He believes trust members should be limiting their investigations to what can be done at the existing facility and site.

The trust was abdicating its role by suggesting anything other than options for reinstatement of the existing facility, Mr Bezett said.

Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin said he was happy to meet Mr Bezett to discuss his concerns.

The trust was respectful of Mr Bezett’s comments about the public survey, as he had been a frequent swimmer in and strong supporter of the physiotherapy pool.

John Bezett
John Bezett
The trust had a different view regarding points Mr Bezett had raised, Mr Martin said.

"The purpose of the feasibility study is not simply to raise funds or get support for reinstatement of the physio pool.

"The purpose is to determine what is required to upgrade the physio pool and make it financially viable as both a public swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool."

Raising funds for any redevelopment was a later step, Mr Martin said.

"The trust is not leading people to believe that the worst option is redevelopment of the physio pool.

"Instead, the trust has left the firm which is carrying out the feasibility study to complete its task as it sees fit."

Consideration of a replacement pool option was within the scope of the feasibility study application approved by the Lottery Grants Board.

The work on condition assessments of the physio pool building and equipment and the information supplied by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ) had been used to understand the scope of future redevelopment options.

Information supplied by HNZ about no on-site parking and restricted long-term access owing to the hospital site master plan had been stated briefly, but clearly, in the public survey document, and it would have been remiss not to include it, Mr Martin said.

On-site parking was vital for pool users with mobility issues and inadequate public parking in the vicinity of the physio pool was well known.

"Replacing the water heating equipment, the proximity of the hospital’s oxygen facility and the plan for another building next to the physio pool are constraints for obtaining long-term use of the physio pool site.

"Redevelopment of the physio pool would require long-term use of and access to the site."

At this stage, the trust did not have a view on which of the options was preferable and it would await recommendations arising from the feasibility study.

The trust recognised there was support to redevelop the physio pool, but it was also aware of support for a new hydrotherapy pool elsewhere.

The public survey gave people the opportunity to demonstrate their support either way, and there was also space in the survey for people to add comments, Mr Martin said.

The physiotherapy pool survey closes tomorrow.