Council responds to calls for change to Tara pool upgrades
FARMERS and swim coaches have united to fight council's plans for a multi-million-dollar upgrade to the Tara Swimming Pool, but what's causing an emotional splash is the new facility will be half the length.
An online petition launched on July 21, is making waves with more than 1604 signatures in the hopes of convincing the Western Downs Regional Council to reconsider the how the planned $3 million upgrade to the pool is spent.
Despite the uproar on the length of the pool, council has stood firm that the multimillion-dollar project for the town of 2300 people is the best option moving forward.
"Council is delivering a major upgrade of the Tara Pool which involves installing a high-standard 25 metre pool and has also allocated funding for planning for the future of the wider pool precinct," she said.
"The current pool has been inspected by independent engineers and has reached the end of its life and is in a state of disrepair.
"Council has sought professional advice on the length of pool that is required in Tara and taken onboard the views of the pool users.
"This advice has determined a 25 metre pool is adequate for the vast majority of uses likely to be required.
"Council is now swiftly moving into the procurement phase for pool design and users will be consulted as part of this process."
MEET manager for the Tara Swim Club Jaime Hirst, and her husband Andrew said they are grateful for the council's investment with the pool upgrades, however were adamant that reducing the size of the pool would be detrimental to the community's sporting events.
"It's fantastic and a much needed investment in to community, first and foremost we are very grateful for the investment into the future of Tara, however the issues arose after they stipulated that the pool would be 25m as opposed to 50m," Mr Hirst said.
The Tara Swim Club, and district competitions, Mr Hirst said, are reliant on the pool, and the change would leave families having to travel 80-100km to use the nearest 50m pool.
"Every competition from regional, state, and national is all done in a 50m pool, so it's important that we maintain the facility we already have because swimming regulations aren't going to change," he said.
"We have people come from as far left as Charleville and as far east as Brisbane to Tara, spending their money in town and supporting the local community.
"It's the 50m pool that brings the numbers, it's the numbers that brings the money."
Travelling to the Tara Pool three times a week with his three daughters, Mr Hirst said he and other families would no longer make the trip for a 25m pool instead using one closer to home.
Where was the consultation?
THIRD generation Hannaford cattle farmer and avid swimmer David Wells claimed there was no consultation with the community about reducing the size of the pool.
"This stinks of neglect in small town that doesn't need any more downsizing," Mr Wells said.
"The transition from Meandarra's 25m pool to the 50m pool at Tara was a very important stepping stone for my development.
"My children are now in the same transition stage and they need to be exposed to this.
The pool is steeped in rich local history as it was funded by the community and farmers in the region, and dug out by locals - shovel in hand.
Mr Wells said his family helped build the pool in the 1960s.
"I can assure you the local people that helped build the pool in the 1960s would be gutted."
Mr Wells said if the council goes ahead with their plan there will be a flow on affect to the rest of the towns economy.
"This is not just about the pool, on a weekly basis we always shop in town when swimming lessons and carnivals are on - if the pool is reduced to 25m we won't be coming to Tara," Mr Wells said.
MR Hirst has urged the council to reconsider spending the allocated funds on the precinct surrounding the Tara pool and instead to focus on repairs to the current 50m pool.
Mrs Hirst said she had been in contact with commercial pool builders who have experience building council pools and had received a quote stating the pool could be replaced under budget.
"Yesterday we received a quote for the upgrade and repair of the Tara pool to remain a 50m pool, and this figure came in under $3 million," she said.
"The quote has been sent to Western Downs council as evidence that 50m pools can be rebuilt for under $3m not their hearsay of over $6 million."
Mr Hirst said, "The question we need answered, and we would like challenged, is the number they have quoted for the reconstruction of the current 50m pool, that it's is not the $6 million they are stating - that it's actually under the $3 million that they have allocated."