Pool push revived in liquidation wake

SUPPORT for the shelved Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre plan has been renewed after the shock closure of Traralgon Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Concept designs for the $30 million GRAC were supported by Latrobe City Council in 2012, along with a pledge of $12 million toward the project, but it has since been unable to attract the balance.

As TISAC shuts its doors and enters liquidation, Traralgon’s sole indoor pool closes down with it, bringing calls for a new public indoor heated pool back into focus.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe, part of the State Coalition which made a $9 million election promise to the project in 2015 before Labor came to power, said the GRAC was back on the agenda.

Mr Northe said after two years and thousands of petition signatures it was high time for State Government support.

“The current pool facility in Traralgon is an outdoor pool, it’s not used all year around and thousands of people have signed petitions in the past calling for a public heated indoor pool for the township of Traralgon and this should be urgently back on the agenda for discussion,” he said.

“The current 50 metre outdoor pool was opened in 1959, over half a century ago, and it is outdated and underused.

“There are some terrific indoor aquatic centres in other parts of regional Victoria that get used all year round for fitness and competition, for teaching kids to swim in a safe place, and for rehabilitation, as well as other activities and events.”

The proposed GRAC was set to include a 50 metre indoor pool, outdoor 25m pool, children’s play area and heated program pool on the site of the current Traralgon Outdoor Pool.

Council’s 10-year financial plan allocated $12 million toward the facility – its largest single capital works project – but relied on $18 million external funding which it has failed to secure to date.

Latrobe City mayor Kellie O’Callaghan said council would continue discussions with state and federal governments in an attempt to secure funding after its application for Regional Development Australia Fund backing was rejected in 2013/14.

“The Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre remains an attractive funding opportunity for both the State and Federal governments as identified in council’s document ‘A Strength Led Transition’,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

“The Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre will be further considered during the development of the next council four-year plan.”

The time for funding may be ripe with the State Government set to commit $174 million over the next four years as part of its Latrobe Valley Community infrastructure and Investment Fund.

As part of the Hazelwood closure response, funding will be allocated for essential infrastructure such as roads and rail, but sport and recreation facilities are also eligible.

“We’re receiving lots of great ideas from the local community about what they want for their area – and we want the fresh ideas to keep on coming,” a State Government spokesperson said.

“The government and the Latrobe Valley Authority are talking to the council about a range of possible community infrastructure projects – and we encourage residents to get in touch with the Authority to have their say.

“We’ll be making some exciting announcements about projects in the future.”