Lake pool vs Lismore park: What does Lismore want?
LISMORE City Council's decision to demolish the Lismore Lake Pool while moving forward with an application to build the proposed $21 million Lismore Park has generated huge controversy among residents.
A feasibility study on refurbishing and reopening the lake pool costed the project at almost $3 million - less than 20% of the estimated total cost of the bigger and more ambitious Lismore Park project.
But in an extraordinary meeting on May 8 the council voted to demolish the pool at a cost of $450,000, ending years of hopes it would be restored.
Instead it is putting its efforts into applying for a $10 million grant from the State Government to build the first stage of Lismore Park.
Stage One of the park would include major infrastructure works including drainage and underground services, pedestrian boulevard with room for markets, a water playground, signage and entry, youth plaza, lighting and playground elements.
But while some people have applauded the vision for a regional park in the centre of Lismore, others just want their old lake pool back.
A Facebook group dedicated to the cause, Lismore Lake Pool Action Group, has more than 3000 members and Lismore councillor Greg Bennett ran a mayoral campaign on the promise at the last council election.
The lake pool was the scene of many good memories for Lismore residents who used the unique circular lagoon pool before it was closed by the council in 2011.
Its closure followed years of neglect of the adjacent Lismore Lake, during which it was reduced from its former glory as a regional water skiing hub to a weed-infested swamp.
The pool and the lake were once the 'place to be' during Lismore's long hot, humid summer.
And for those residents with memories of the place, the loss of both is a bitter pill to swallow, which the proposed Lismore Park won't replace.
But in an interview with The Northern Star, Lismore mayor Isaac Smith said it was the central location of Lismore Park which made it a winner.
"We know that for for our city economically and socially having a park in the middle of town, especially a big regional park is the best option," he said.
"It's a better space in a much better area, because it links up with more of our city which is better in the longer-term."
Cr Smith agreed the lake pool was an "iconic" place that "holds a lot of memories" which couldn't be replaced.
But to be successful in applying for a government grant it he said wasn't enough to claim "because people used to love it".
"They want to know how it's going to benefit your businesses, they want to know how public transport is going to access it, they want to know all the reasons why putting in a tourism grant into your city is going to make a long-term difference."
"And unfortunately those numbers just don't stack up on a facility that's way out of town like the lake pool."
Lismore deputy mayor Gianpiero Battista agreed.
"It fits in with our strategy to revitalise the CBD and make a statement about Lismore. The other one is out of the way, it can only be used if you've got a car."
I'd rather see something centrally located in terms of a park that can be serviced by the whole community."
"It will bring a lot of people from the outer areas who are not coming here to visit any more."
Cr Battista said he believed as compensation for the loss of the lake pool, admission to the Memorial Baths on hot afternoons should be free.
Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins said she had been a longtime campaigner to keep the lake pool open as a free facility for families before it closed in 2011.
"But the report that came back it was just really expensive, I couldn't accept the ($2.75) million price tag," she said.
"It had to be completely pulled apart and rebuilt because the infrastructure was in such poor condition."
"Then a friend of mine told me she had pulled drowning children out of the pool on several occasions, because there was no supervision."
"The design was dangerous, it increases in depth as you walk in. Kids got caught out.
"The other thing is Lismore Park is right in town. It will provide a similar experience in that there is play spaces and a water feature. If we can get grant funding, it will be an interesting park."