Save Our Services Wollongong convener Stephen Spencer fears the city council could close Berkeley Pool, based on falling patronage.
A regular swimmer at the Continental Pools, Mr Spencer said Wollongong council’s draft pool strategy raised some pertinent points but failed to answer a number of questions.
‘‘I think it is important the current diverse range of pools should be maintained,’’ he said.
The council has nine supervised pools and nine tidal rock pools.
The council admits these rock pools are popular with early morning and evening lap swimmers and visitors to the city.
However, a recent survey showed that 63 per cent of the city’s population had not visited a rock pool in the previous 12 months.
The council’s property and recreation manager, Peter Coyte, said pool patronage had declined over the past six years, with a 17 per cent drop since 2007-08.
More than 1.38 million people attended the council’s nine supervised pools in 2007-08.
This fell to 1.15 million in 2012-13.
The largest declines were at Berkeley (43 per cent) and Dapto (21 per cent).
However, Mr Spencer said the figures did not paint a true picture.
‘‘I’m reluctant to say the Berkeley Pool should effectively be run down to closure as this paper [strategy] seems to be suggesting, until we are convinced the people of Berkeley really don’t want the pool,’’ he said.
‘‘Before any pool is closed or council works towards closing a pool by simple neglect, it needs to be sure the people don’t want the pool.’’
Mr Coyte said it was apparent the community loved their pools and were passionate about them.
‘‘We are exhibiting this draft Future of Our Pools Strategy to enable council to provide appealing, safe, and entertaining aquatic recreation for all people and all users in our city,’’ Mr Coyte said.
‘‘We also have to manage these pools through the confines of council’s financial resources,’’ he said.
Mr Spencer was happy the council wanted to develop the community pools more as social venues and envisaged them as places which were going to enhance community health and social wellbeing.
‘‘We would be vehemently opposed to any charges being applied to those pools which are free at the moment,’’ he said.