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CVC splash $3.8 million on Grafton Olympic Pool while diving for further funding

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Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent

While the Grafton Olympic Pool will remain closed for the 2022/23 season, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has approved the commencement of a two-stage selective tender process for the redevelopment of the site, with councillors voting 6-3 at the monthly meeting on September 27 to endorse the proposal.

In front of a large crowd of Clarence Valley residents who watched proceedings eagerly from the gallery at the Grafton Council Chambers, council committed $3.8 million to give the community “what it deserves”, with the decision enabling staff to begin the procurement process to help deliver Stage 1 of the Grafton Aquatic Centre, following recent development approval by the Northern Rivers Joint Regional Planning Panel.

Featuring a new 50m eight lane outdoor pool, an outdoor grandstand including accessible spaces, a new warm water 25m heated pool, new beach entry heated leisure pool with a program pool, additional amenities, shade and recreational areas, a swim club room and outdoor pool lighting, Stage 1 is expected to cost $15 million, with council continuing to seek additional funding from the State and Federal Governments.

Stage 2, which will include two water slides, an all-ability splash pad, dive pool and the refurbishment of existing amenities, is estimated to cost around $6 million.

The nine-part motion also included the officer’s recommendation and the need to establish a community focus group to work with council for the life of the project.

During the meeting, Councillor Debrah Novak spoke passionately about the necessity of a community focus group, citing “extraordinary interest” in the project as she acknowledged the large number of attendees in the gallery.

“This is a major piece of infrastructure for our valley,” she said.

“This is about making sure that you (the community) are included in the conversation along the journey of this project, and that you feel like you are included, and you’re not going to be missing out.

“We’ve heard from a lot of you, so this is for you to keep you informed, to keep you interested, and to keep you going, and to give you hope.

“Thank you for attending today.”

Cr Novak also acknowledged Councillor Karen Toms for “putting such a great motion together for all of us to participate in and support.”   

During the meeting, councillors also received and noted the petition, “Save Grafton Memorial Pool”, and referred it to the General Manager to action accordingly.

The petition requested to “take immediate action in regard to prioritising the issues concerning the Grafton Memorial Pool”, and this sentiment was echoed in the staff report, which stated the Grafton Olympic Pool “requires urgent renewal”, by the councillors. 

“We’re in a position now where council needs to find money to build it, and hopefully get some grants in the future,” Councillor Steve Pickering said. 

“We need to expedite whatever needs to be done to get this pool built in a timely manner and with as little inconvenience as possible to the community.”

While the scheduled reopening of the Grafton Olympic Pool for the 2022/23 season was originally postponed after serious safety issues were raised following substantial subsidence which was found to have occurred on site, Acting General Manager Adam Cameron said while council understands the impact the decision not to reopen will have on the numerous swimming clubs, community groups, schools and residents who utilise the facility every summer, he stated the interest of public safety was paramount in the final decision.

“We are committed to delivering a modern and inclusive facility that will provide significant and varied benefits for the whole community,” he said.

Council also confirmed South Grafton Pool will remain open while Stage 1 of the Grafton Olympic Pool redevelopment is being completed.

Clarence Valley Independent 5 October 2022

This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 5 October 2022.

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