Pool victory

Jubilant Ararat Olympic Swimming Pool Committee members Kylie Milne, Rhonda Holz, Carmel Beer, Ambrose Cashin, Maddy Vernon and Sandy Laidlaw celebrate Ararat Rural City Council’s decision to support the redevelopment of the Ararat Olympic Swimming Pool after three years of campaigning. Picture: PETER PICKERINGIT HAS taken three arduous years of campaigning, however the Ararat Olympic Swimming Pool Committee has taken a giant step forward in its battle to refurbish the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool.
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Ararat Rural City Council has thrown its support behind the project agreeing to work alongside the Pool Committee to reopen the historic pool.

All seven councillors voted unanimously in favour of a lengthy motion to support the Pool Committee, moved by Cr Gary Hull at its ordinary meeting on Tuesday night.

In front of an expectant public gallery, Cr Hull moved that Council undertake and manage the entire pool refurbishment project, in accordance with Council’s policies, practices and legislative obligations.

Councillors also agreed to form a Project Control Group, including representatives from the Pool Committee and Council officers, to manage the process.

Council restated its commitment to provide $450,000 funding, based on the understanding the $350,000 balance will be provided by the party elected to govern the state on November 29 and that all remaining funds are able to be provided by the Pool Committee.

Cr Hull said Council will look to lease the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool to the Pool Committee for a period of three years at the completion of the refurbishment.

As part of the motion he moved that Council develop a funding agreement, where by Council would fund no more than $80,000 per annum for an initial three years to assist the Pool Committee to operate the pool.

“This funding agreement will be compiled by Council’s legal counsel to ensure that all provisions of the Local Government Act 1989 and Council’s procurement policy are complied with,” he said.

“This document should be designed so that it only disburses funds for legitimate running and maintenance costs, upon receipt of audited and documented costs incurred, at the end of the summer pool season, and these funds are limited to lifeguard costs, chemicals, electricity, water, rubbish removal and other minor maintenance, and these funds are not be be disbursed for management fees or salaries.”

Cr Hull said against a wave of opposition and uncertainty the Pool Committee had stood firm in its resolve to see the historic pool saved.

“I’d just like to congratulate the Pool Committee and the Council for their hard work and persistence on this project, the Committee has done a lot of work in the last 12 months, especially when they’ve been told that they couldn’t get the lease up and ready,” he said.

“It is also very good to see both sides of politics support this very worthwhile venture and I look forward to the start of the project.”

State Labor and the Coalition have each pledged $350,000 to build a new multi-purpose kiosk with change rooms.

The Coalition went a step further and has also promised $340,000 in funding to go towards enhancing the broader precinct.

In rising to support Cr Hull’s motion, Cr Gwenda Allgood said Tuesday night’s outcome was as a result of a very long and involved process.

“They’ve (Pool Committee) been very determined and very forthright with what they’ve wanted and the Council officers have been able to come up with a solution that should make everybody happy,” she said.

“I just look forward to the day it starts because while we promote Active Ararat and we talk about trying to keep young people out there and doing things we certainly are suffering a lot of criticism at the moment with the hot weather and no where for the children to go.

“I think it’s a great solution and I wish everybody all the best, its taken some time to get to this point but sometimes it take a little time to get it right.”

Council’s decision marks a stunning turn around in fortunes for the beleaguered pool. Council voted to enact its closure and demolish the site in September 2013 but rescinded the motion after community outcry.

Ararat Olympic Pool Committee’s Ambrose Cashin said Tuesday night’s decision wouldn’t have come about had it not been for the efforts of the Ararat community.

“This is a sensational outcome, a great outcome for the community of Ararat and surrounds,” he said.

“It just shows that if people persist great things can be achieved. The community of Ararat been stalwart in its support for this project.

“This would not have been possible without the outstanding contributions pledged by trades people, contractors and businesses across the Ararat region.”

Mr Cashin said the Pool Committee will continue to work hard to ensure the facility is modernised and remains viable for at least the next 50 years.

“The committee and community are willing and keen to work together to ensure this project is an outstanding success,” he said.

“Now it is time to formalise and implement a plan for it to be reopened by this time next year. If we all work in the spirit of cooperation, I can see no reason why this can’t be achieved.

“We look forward to working with council to get this facility reopened for the 2015/16 summer.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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