Latrobe City Council says it’s open to considering potential changes to existing plans for Traralgon’s proposed indoor pool in a bid to increase the chances of attracting funding fast.
The mammoth $30 million project has remained in limbo since 2012 when concept designs were adopted, with council unsuccessful in gaining critical state or federal funding.
Under the current proposal, the Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre would be built on the outdoor pool site at Kay and Breed streets and include a 50 metre indoor heated pool, children’s play area, hydrotherapy pool and a 25m outdoor pool.
But mayor Dale Harriman said council could potentially stage the development to prioritise the long-called-for 50m indoor pool and add other components later.
“Basically, the biggest cost is the building, not the actual pool. If we made the building smaller and took out parts of the development and left it so they could be staged in later… it would require less (initial) input by state or federal governments and may make it more attractive to them to fund the initial stages,” Cr Harriman said.
Cr Harriman said a potential option was to build the 50m indoor pool and 25m outdoor pool, but hold off on constructing the children’s zero-depth play area and the hydrotherapy pool until a later time.
Cr Harriman estimated this initial stage would cost up to $22 million, but this would need to be confirmed by council officers.
Council has committed $12 million of its own funds to the project.
Cr Harriman said he did not believe the concept design would have to be changed dramatically to allow for a staged option and it could be as simple as “putting a wall in”.
It is unclear whether such changes would require a vote in council chambers, or whether the decision could be made internally.
The move comes after State Member for Morwell Russell Northe last week suggested council could consider a more “modest” design.
He has launched a petition calling on the State Government to allocate $9 million for the pool – as the Coalition promised before losing November’s election.
Mr Northe welcomed Cr Harriman’s comments, saying people were telling him they “simply want a 50m indoor pool”.
Traralgon Swimming Club senior coach Brian Ford – whose club is forced to train in other towns and in private facilities – said he supported a staged approach to the development, suggesting even the 25m outdoor pool component could be excluded from the first stage.
“The 50m pool will be the only one from Fountain Gate to the border,” Mr Ford said.