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Pool project needs independent review

Opinion Piece

The time has come to re-enter the Olympic pool debate. I no longer belong to the pool users group. This group tried to be constructive with the council but got absolutely nowhere.

In my opinion, the rebuild should not go ahead in its present format.

There are numerous things that could be improved. I am no engineer but the cost and dangers of building over a sewerage line is crazy. Andrew Barnes has done a lot of work on why this should not happen, and has been ignored by the council.

One option could be for the whole complex to be turned around so the pool is on the seaward side, and changing rooms and offices on the Awapuni Road side — surely it would be wise to have the changing rooms and offices over the pipe; this would be a hell of a lot cheaper to do than with it under the pool!

The council has already indicated the horrendous cost of the current site for the pool. The other option would be to move it further east towards the old jail; if this was to be done then the pool could still be used while construction of the new pool is under way, and demolished when it is completed.

The pool roof has been changed from the original concept. The clear plastic (can't remember its proper name) now covers less than half what the original design had. It doesn't take much digging to find out there have been problems with the stuff; like too much heating in one pool, too much glare in another. In the designer's plans it says the concept is a lot more expensive than a conventional roof; by how much would be a good question (oops, forgot, the council doesn't answer questions).

I thought we were supposed to be thinking green. With a less expensive roof it could be covered with solar panels, which would reduce ongoing costs. Ask Enterprise Pool about savings through solar.

The 50 metre pool is the problem that the users group was most concerned about. The bottom profile was a strange concept; no problem with one end being 2 metres deep, but the other end in the original plan had three levels — one at 1.4m, one at 1.6m and one at 2m! That has now changed to a sloping floor.

The group wanted it to be 2m along the whole bottom, with a movable floor three lanes wide and 25m long. The designer and the council must have thought this had some merit, because some work was started on it.

The council advised us they would look into it if we contributed $24,000. That came as a bit of a shock, but later we were told not to worry, they would take care of it. Really confusing! I think they must have thought we would come up with a cost-effective design.

The dividing wall is a concern. The designer is adamant on this being 2 degrees hotter on one side than the other. This makes moving the wall a problem, with the water mixing to become one temperature. I think it takes three hours to bring the temperature back up when the wall is up. More added cost.

This whole project needs to be reviewed by someone other than the council. They have rushed this through with no consultation.

This journey was started in July and we were told nothing could be changed as it was being signed off in two weeks. But this didn't happen until about three weeks ago! During this period the users group were invited to join the Olympic pool redevelopment group, which was us mainly listening to excuses. The group was to meet again this month but for some reason that was called off.

The council has asked the users group to find funding for the movable floor by the end of the month. How do they think you can find the funds for something not designed yet, within two weeks? The mind boggles.

This project does not suit the needs of all pool users. Walkers, probably the most vulnerable group, will have to be issued with snorkels to get any distance. Aqua aerobics will find it hard — yes, I know, there is deep-water aqua aerobics but talking to those who do aqua aerobics now, a lot are not happy with that.

I guess this is all a waste of time going on about how the council seems to operate. But to carry on with the pool in its current design will not be good for the district. Pool costs will increase dramatically, making it a burden on ratepayers — or most people will not be able to afford the entry price.

It will be nice if the council can refute any of these claims. Don't hold your breath waiting on an answer . . . unless you borrow one of the walker's snorkles.

Footnote response from Gisborne District Council:

We and our community are excited to have secured Government funding for 87 percent of the cost of the pool redevelopment project. The council is continuing to carefully consider and balance community aspirations, needs and differing opinions before finalising concept plans. We continue to work with mana whenua who play a very important role in the pool project.

Our goal is that the Olympic Pool redevelopment delivers the greatest benefits and opportunities year-round for our community.

Glen Sutton

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  1. PJ Reed says:

    Is there nowhere in New Zealand that has gone though what I would have thought would be common issues with pool development? Learning from others re mistakes or their solutions sounds better than what appears to be another council debacle in the making. Is there a specific need for a 2 metre pool depth? I remember the dangers of having a deep pool, with McRae Baths having a deep diving board end. At 2 metres this would be over most people’s heads. I understand that compromise is always a tricky path to tread.

  2. Peter Jones says:

    Kia ora Glen, The public gets who they voted in and the public voted for political correctness at the expense of common sense. Thank you for exposing the folly of the incumbents and thank you for the time you put into trying to put things right. Incurring community debt for white elephant projects is a mechanism for the great reset that is well explained by Dr Google but not in the contemporary media – and mana whenua are as guilty of believing their newspapers and televisions as anybody else. We must all trust the technocrats we are told. Send in boys to do a man’s job and this is what you get Gisborne. Like Glen I am over it for now and you must reap what you have sown for decades.