Public says to put pools high on priority list

Swimmers enjoy Woonona rock pool during summer. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Swimmers enjoy Woonona rock pool during summer. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

The renewal of tidal rock pools and an upgrade of Beaton Park are among the recommendations for The Future of Our Pools Strategy 2014 to 2024, to be considered by Wollongong City Council on Monday night.

The council acknowledged "community and media feedback indicate[d] a strong sentiment towards the preservation the city's nine tidal rock pools".

The Mercury's coverage of the potential tidal pool closures, including our Saltwater Sanctuaries series on the region's ocean baths, received an enormous community response.

The current Draft Capital Works Plan has allocated $3.28 million to the renewal of tidal rock pools over the next four years. The renewal of supervised public swimming pools will be allocated $3,855,000 over the same four-year period.

The council received 130 submissions and two petitions during public exhibition of the strategy in March and April.

Wollongong Swimming Club Inc submitted 716 signatures in support of expanding Beaton Park. Several submissions expressed the same concern.

"Beaton Park should be the premier hub for our athletes," one submission said. "There is an unmet user group of ageing people and rehab attending Beaton Park," another read.

The council has recognised that the facility is "beyond capacity" during peak periods.

A $50,000 plan to upgrade Beaton Park to be the premier year-round pool in Wollongong is a key priority in the strategy.

The second petition called for Wollongong Continental Pool to open earlier and/or later to cater for commuters and shift workers.

The council plans to investigate options for operating hours within the existing budget.

The council has flagged a potential fee increase for heated pools. Corrimal, Dapto and Beaton Park, all heated, are the only pools that charge entry fees.

While the introduction of fees at non-heated pools has been raised previously, any proposal to do so is subject to a feasibility assessment. Fees for users outside the Wollongong local government area was a key theme in community feedback for the strategy.

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