FILE PHOTO: Woodburn Pool in 2012. The future of the pool will be considered by council and the community.
FILE PHOTO: Woodburn Pool in 2012. The future of the pool will be considered by council and the community. Samantha Elley

Fate of swimming pool in community hands

THE fate of the Woodburn Swimming Pool could be in the hands of the community.

At the Richmond Valley Council meeting on Tuesday night, councillor Robert Hayes moved a motion to close the pool, and to re-invest the funds required the maintain the pool into new infrastructure for the community.

Mayor Robert Mustow proposed a successful amendment detailing how the council would consult with the community about the pool, and identify alternate options available, with a report to be put forward at a future meeting.

The motion came after council completed usage assessments of its four public swimming pools at Casino, Coraki, Evans Head and Woodburn to determine the financial commitment required to safely maintain and operate the pools.

The council's general manager Vaughan Macdonald said the Woodburn facility required more than $200,000 of essential infrastructure works before it could be reopened for the 2019-20 summer season.

"Council understands that our communities enjoy having services available, but the challenge for council is to ensure that investment in infrastructure is well directed to meet the current and future needs of the residents in each community," Mr Macdonald said.

Mr Macdonald said the council had allocated $210,000 in the 2019-20 draft budget for a new filtration system, plus a further $60,000 for essential works in 2020-21.

"These funds are the bare minimum required to keep the facility operational," he said.

"Council is doing the responsible thing by considering how it should best spend the $210,000 allocated to its renewal and will be consulting the community to hear their views."

Councillors discussed the financial viability of maintaining the Woodburn facility given there was a modern heated public swimming pool facility located only ten minutes from Woodburn at Evans Head.

"The Woodburn pool facility is not in line with modern aquatic facilities and at some point in time a decision will need to made to either invest substantial funds to renew the facility, or rationalise the provision of aquatic facilities given there is a modern facility ten minutes away," Mr Macdonald said.

Councillors discussed whether it was better to invest the funds allocated to the pool in the 2019/2020 Draft Budget on other items in Woodburn, such as the establishment of a water play splash pad at the Woodburn Riverside Park which is being renewed into an attractive and modern riverside park.

Mr Macdonald said the council will be consulting with the community over the next month to get views on how best to invest in local infrastructure with money from the budget to meet the future needs of the Woodburn community.

This will include providing detailed information on usage and alternative options, providing the opportunity to complete surveys and giving residents the opportunity to give their views at a community meeting.