COUNCILLORS should shoulder the blame for drowning out the city's call for a new outdoor pool, an outspoken pool campaigner has claimed.
Terry Barden, who served almost 30 years as a councillor and member of the pool committee, said councillors were given a "golden chance" in 2009 to make the pool a reality but "sat on their hands".
His comments come as the push for a new pool in Griffith intensifies, with parents being forced to drive to Barellan, Darlington Point, Narrandera or Wagga to give their kids a reprieve from the recent heatwave.
Griffith's former Olympic pool, which was plagued with structural problems, was closed down more than a decade ago to make way for the Griffith Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre (GRALC).
In 2009, Goodwood Services was commissioned to draw up concept plans for an outdoor pool complex at the current site but councillors deemed it was too costly, despite council holding more than $4 million in developer contributions for a recreation facility at the time.
"Councillors just sat on it when it was their responsibility to drive it," Mr Barden said.
"We could have done it with half that $4 million, and there are also grants for these sort of things, but councillors just sat on their hands. It hasn't even been included in the city's long-term plan.
"We may have lost our opportunity now."
He said he was not in favour of raising rates to fund the pool, saying it would unfairly punish non-pool users.
Ratepayers' desire for a pool has prompted some left-field suggestions to finance one.
Community Development Council of Griffith founder Lance Perry said the current indoor pool, which loses more than $500,000 a year, should be closed down for a period to pay for a new outdoor facility.
"The aquatic centre has been costing ratepayers between $600,000 and $1 million a year since it was built; close it and in a short period of time council will have the money to build a 50 metre outdoor pool," Mr Perry said.
Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said it was critical the community lobbied council if it saw the pool as a funding priority.
"We are focused on the bread and butter infrastructure issues like our road network and improving stormwater drainage in Yenda and Yoogali," Mr Stonestreet said.
He said if council was to adopt a special rate rise to bankroll the pool, it would be included in the 2014/15 budget at the earliest.