By Karen Buck
PLANTAGENET residents are being surveyed in a $50,000 feasibility study to decide the fate of the popular Mount Barker memorial swimming pool.
The 50-metre pool, the only one in the region, is nearly half a century old and in need of refurbishment, but before undertaking any expensive upgrade, the Plantagenet shire has contracted Consulting Great Southern to conduct a communitywide survey.
The first part of the study is an online survey which canvasses residents’ opinions on a range of issues, including whether they want the pool relocated and whether additional water features should be added, along with better changeroom and showering facilities.
In addition, ratepayers are asked whether the pool should be heated, if they would like a café there, and what they think would be a reasonable entry fee and rate rise to help defray the pool’s operating costs.
Shire executive manager for strategic development Andrus Budrikis said that the study would look thoroughly at all the issues, because council needed to be able to make an informed decision.
“As part of the study, core samples will be taken of the concrete pool shell to determine its life expectancy,” Mr Budrikis said.
“There’s no point spending a million dollars fixing the pool if the life expectancy of the shell isn’t good. “If the concrete proves to be in good condition and still has a decent life expectancy it makes sense to work around what we’ve got. “If the concrete is no good and we have to pull the pool out and build a new one, then it opens the door to other options,” he said.
Other options include looking at whether a 50m or 25m pool is what the community wants, and where people prefer the pool to be situated. The Sounness Park sports precinct and the Mt Barker Community College recreation centre are two possible locations.
“The pool is really something for the next generation, not just for the next five or ten years, so we need to know what the community really wants,” Mr Budrikis said.
“It’s a popular and well-used facility, especially by the schools and swimming classes, so unless the community overwhelmingly tells us they don’t want a pool I can’t see council considering that as an option,” Mr Budrikis said.
“It’s an important Mt Barker facility.” Not having a pool at all seemed an unlikely option, though the survey does canvass the possibility.
Conceding that the pool did not pay its way and was subsidised by ratepayers, Mr Budrikis pointed out that this was true of almost any council-owned facility, including sporting facilities.
The survey form explains that the study is not a guarantee that any proposal will go ahead, as funding for the development has not yet been confirmed.
The survey is open until August 22, and residents are urged to let council know their thoughts on the future of the important and well used facility.
The results of the feasibility study are not expected to be known for some months.