ARARAT’S Olympic swimming pool has won a reprieve after Ararat Rural City Council overturned its decision to close it.
In September, council voted five-to-two to permanently close the pool and demolish the structure.
Council has been working towards a resolution for the pool since it was closed in 2011.
The decision to demolish the pool met community outcry with residents taking to social media to voice disappointment and outrage.
More than 2000 people attended a community rally to save the pool on September 28.
At a meeting on Tuesday night, Cr Gwenda Allgood recommended council’s decision to permanently close and demolish the pool be rescinded.
Mayor Ian Wilson said council would now seek more information about further use for the site.
“Councillors received a range of information on the subject and were approached by people, asking them to reconsider,” he said.
“We agreed to review the council’s position.”
He said the pool would stay closed for the immediate future and the subject was a matter of further investigation.
“It has been a difficult process for council,” he said.
“I imagine some people are pleased and some people aren’t supportive, so it is a balancing act – like every decision we make.”
The meeting was moved to Ararat Town Hall because of the number of people wanting to attend.
“We had 300 people in attendance and every-one had an opportunity to make a statement to council,” Cr Wilson said.
A report to council stated Etch Architects estimated the cost of redeveloping the pool at $2,905,156 in May.
After the tender process, the total project cost was estimated at $2,782,967.
Cr Wilson said there was a funding shortfall of $1.9 million.
The yearly operating costs are just under $470,000, which equates to a 4.4 per cent rate rise.
Save Our Pool committee member Ambrose Cashin said the community voice had been heard.
“We think it’s fantastic that the pool is not going to be demolished,” he said.
“Now we’ve got the chance to get the pool open for use.
“At the council meeting, most of the 300 people were in favour of getting the pool open.
“A few were concerned about rate rises and that is something the pool committee will take on board.”
He said the committee was keen to continue working with councillors to redevelop the pool.
“Early on we were working well at getting the project to tender, but at the last minute there was a bit of a hiccup and confusion and we are keen to get past that confusion,” he said.
“I think council got a clear understanding from a wide range of people in the community about the need for the pool.”
Mr Cashin said the committee would like the pool to be redeveloped as a multi-purpose area.
“That’s our long-term goal,” he said.
“In the short term, we want to see what we can do to get it open
“There are lots of tradespeople offering to donate in-kind labour.”
Mr Cashin commended council for listening to people’s opinions.
More than 100 people signed a petition supporting the pool’s closure.
The petition with 113 signatures was presented to council and commended the ‘very sound financial decision to remove the old Olympic pool’.
“It is disappointing to see the Save the Pool group exploiting children to further their own agenda – children who have no understanding of the financial ramifications this project would have on our municipality,” the petition said.
“We urge Cr Wilson and supporting councillors to stand firm on their very responsible decision on the future of the old Olympic pool.”