New era for Wanaka pool

Date:
Dec 10, 2008

The management of the Wanaka Pool is to be transferred to council-controlled ‘not-for-profit’ organisation Lakes Leisure Limited, marking a new era for the pool, Wanaka Community Pool chairperson Jude Battson said.

“The main reason for the changeover is that it is no longer viable for the volunteer committee to run the pool for practical and economic reasons,” she said.

There were increasing demands for improved safety standards, which exposed committee members to personal liability and required more time and effort than was possible to provide in a voluntary capacity.

“We have reached the point where we accept that the pool needs professional management and rather than contemplate closure we have asked Lakes Leisure to step in,” Ms Battson said.

With the support of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Lakes Leisure - which operates Alpine Aqualand and the Arrowtown Memorial Pool - has agreed to take over the management.

“It’s a positive move for the Wanaka community. Lakes Leisure will bring the same high quality and affordable learn to swim and water safety programmes that are operating out of Alpine Aqualand,” Ms Battson said.

Pool prices and existing season passes would be honoured for the current season.

“Although usage has grown (32,000 in the last year) it needs to be recognised there is a high cost to running a pool. The pool ran at a $23,000 loss last financial year and power accounts have been as high as $9,300 for some winter months,” Ms Battson said.

All costs had increased and the plant required ongoing maintenance.

“The reality is that facilities like this come with a price. In the Wakatipu every household now pays a fee in the rates towards the running of the new aquatic centre. The same arrangement will have to apply to Wanaka eventually,” she said.

Finance had to also be a key consideration when it came to the provision of ‘learn to swim’ services.

“Included in the contract between the committee and Lakes Leisure is the sole right to provide ‘learn to swim’ operations. The management of the swim school ‘in-house’ will mean that use of pool space can be managed efficiently and any surpluses from the operation will be retained to offset overheads and reduce the over-all cost to the ratepayer. The retention of the ‘learn to swim’ rights ‘in-house’ is essential to ensuring the financial viability of the pool,” Ms Battson said.

The contract also provided certainty over continued access for the Wanaka Swim Club for club squad and coaching activities at times agreed between Lakes Leisure and the Wanaka Swim Club.

“Lakes Leisure was more than happy to honour this arrangement,’ Ms Battson said.

Since opening in 1992, after years of community fundraising lead by the Wanaka and District Lions Club, the pool committee has been run by countless volunteers who along with staff have worked to ensure the pool was/is open for the public to learn to swim and enjoy.

The management committee as per the constitution has representatives on the committee from Wanaka and District Lions Club, Wanaka Swim Club, Wanaka Community Board, Wanaka Primary School and Mt Aspiring College.

“It has been a major community commitment and I’d like to pay tribute to all of those people over the many years that have made contributions. It’s the end of one era and an exciting start to another,” Ms Battson said.

ENDS

For further information please contact Jude Battson ph 03 443 1602 or 027 561 6088.

By: QLDC