Pool shortlisted

The Gippsland Aquatic Centre project is one step closer to gaining $15 million in Federal Government funding after being shortlisted by Regional Development Australia.

But it is understood a bid for funds to construct a pavilion at Churchill’s new synthetic hockey pitch has this time been left out.

Latrobe City Council will now begin work on a detailed application for funding which will pay for half of the $30 million aquatic complex, which includes a 50-metre indoor pool.

“The fact that it’s been recognised as a regional project is a very good start, but we’ve got to temper that excitement with the fact that we’re going into a nation-wide competitive process,” Latrobe City Council’s general manager recreational and cultural liveability Grantley Switzer said.

Traralgon Swimming Club senior head coach Brian Ford said it would be a relief to see the 40-year fight for an indoor swimming pool come to an end.

“It’s going to be a fantastic facility, not only for a sporting precinct of the Latrobe Valley, but for the sporting community of Gippsland; it’s going to be where people flock to,” Mr Ford said.

The Express believes the pool was chosen by the Regional Development Australia Gippsland committee as one of three projects to move forward, including funding for Warragul’s railway precinct and land for expansion of the Patties factory in Bairnsdale.

Committee chair Richard Elkington said all of the applications were to be commended.

“It was a difficult decision to rank them,” he said.

Gippsland is among 55 regions in Australia bidding for its share in $175 million in round four of the RDA grants.

Applications for the funding will close on 11 April and the chosen projects are expected to be announced on 12 July.

Meanwhile, Latrobe Valley Hockey Association president Linda Reid said she would be “pretty devastated” to miss out on $500,000 from a separate pool of RDA funding for a pavilion at the synthetic pitch which has been open for two seasons.

“At the moment, we stand under a bus shelter when it’s raining,” Ms Reid said.