Pool of good fortune

It’s been treading water for about four decades but Traralgon’s indoor pool pipedream will finally become a reality.

The State Government pledged $46 million for the Gippsland Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre as part of an $85 million sporting infrastructure package from its $266 million Hazelwood transition fund.

Premier Daniel Andrews made the sporting declaration at Ted Summerton reserve on Friday.

“The Traralgon Swimming Club has won the regional championships 17 out of the last 18 years without proper pool infrastructure that they need,” Mr Andrews said.

“Imagine what they can do with a proper pool, a proper aquatic centre. I’m so proud to say that we will build that proper aquatic centre.”

It comes as vindication for a range of community groups and advocates of the GRAC who never threw in the towel after years of lobbying.

Among them is Traralgon Swimming Club senior head coach Brian Ford, who has long led the regional team to success despite a lack of infrastructure.

“It’s fantastic. This has a history of nearly 40 years of feasibility studies, projects and plans for getting an indoor aquatic centre in Traralgon,” Mr Ford said.

“We’ve been without a pool since day one. To have a 50-metre indoor facility where we can train all year, it’s not so much what we can do but how we can grow.

“It’s not just going to be for the swimming club obviously, it’s going to be a community centre. It’s going to be for the community and the elite sport.”

Latrobe City Council’s existing master plan to overhaul the current Traralgon Outdoor Pool at Hubert Osborne Park includes an indoor 50m pool, outdoor 25m pool, children’s play area and heated program pool.

The concept was endorsed by council in 2012 along with a pledge of $12 million toward the $30 million total, but until now had been unable to attract the requisite external funding.

With the State Government pledge going above and beyond the original estimated cost by some $16 million, The Express understands council will not be required to contribute to the capital build, but will consider operational costs in the future budget.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe, whose opposition pledged $9 million toward the GRAC as an election promise in 2014 before being defeated by Labor, has long called for State Government investment for a Traralgon indoor pool.

“It’s been on the table for a long, long time and plans have been in place for many years,” Mr Northe said.

“There’s thousands of people who have signed petitions over many years, they’ve been tabled in parliament, there’s been committees established… and it’s vindication to all I think who have fought long and hard for this day to occur.

“It will be a wonderful asset once constructed for this community and this region.”

The government expects the project to be completed by 2019.