Treading water on pool audit

COUNCIL has given general support to a report condemning its management of the Griffith pool but will wait a further three months before making any changes.

Councillors decided at Tuesday night's meeting they will "undertake a comprehensive community consultation process" about four years after the first internal review of the facility investigated why, at that time, it was losing almost $1 million every year.

The latest ratepayer-funded report labelled the Griffith Regional Aquatic Centre "not sustainable" and recommended extensive renovations.

It was suggested council should build a new 25-metre outdoor swimming pool and outdoor barbecue setting, upgrade or relocate the cafe and seriously consider outsourcing the management.

As recommended by the consultancy firms Tredwell and RMP, council will ask residents for their opinions on the type, scope, timing and cost of any future developments and what their preferred management structure would be.

A concerned resident representing pool users, Sue Brighenti, pleaded with councillors not to punish those who currently use the ill-fated facility in their bid to slash costs.

"Riverina has the highest rate of drowning deaths in lakes and pools. Where else can you learn to swim other than the pool?" Mrs Brighenti said.

"I'd hate to see the pool now used as a scapegoat for money saving for the council because it services an area with a lake you can't swim in and we don't have anything else here."

Mayor John Dal Broi immediately quelled concerns the pool would downsize or cut back its services to stem losses.

"This recommendation will give us the chance to improve the facility by way of better ventilation, kiosk, more water, you name it.

"The facility will always be there and be better than ever, but whether it's run by council or someone else remains to be determined.

"I was reluctant to wait so long but I have been persuaded we need until July 31 for proper community consultation including a public meeting so everyone can share their view before we make a final decision."

Griffith Business Chamber's Paul Pierotti said almost three years ago his organisation made almost identical suggestions to those in the audit.

"We are glad this report is finally out but we are extremely disappointed it took so long because Chamber's recommendations made over three years ago are completely in sync," Mr Pierotti said.

"We hope to an open and frank dialogue to come up with solutions to make it the centre it should have always been, not a never-ending drain on the public purse."

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