ARARAT - Close to 50 people spent the first hour of last week's council meeting at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre voicing their opinion on the issue of the Ararat Olympic Outdoor Swimming Pool.
Some of the public feedback...
"With all due respect we had a rate rise this year and I don't know what it included...I can understand the argument of another three and a half to four percent rate rise to have our pool put back together to the way it's meant to be, but at least we'd have something to show for it."
- Cassandra Stewart
"I remember when we helped the Ararat Hospital build the house that was auctioned. The amount of voluntary labour that was supplied to raise something like $300,000, I'm sure if the council got the quote for the materials to fund the pool there would be plenty of local tradesman who would put in and help reduce the cost of completing the project."
- Mick Jennings
"I am a teacher at Marian College and since the pool has been closed I have seen swimming curriculum at our school virtually disappear, because we are unable to get in to the YMCA as they cater more for the primary schools with the shallow water. There is now a lot of students in a very big school that aren't exposed to cold water. I am also concerned about our swimming sports because we have had to bus students down to Lake Bolac which has cut short a day which is about social interaction as well as elite swimmers competing to go on to the next stage."
- Megan Shea
"I am an ex-councillor and one of the concerns I have is that there seems to be a great emphasis on the consultant's cost of $2-plus million. I must say from my experiences as a councillor I don't have much faith in consultants. We need another quote and if that's not better keep getting quotes, because I don't know how many we've had, but it seems council is only looking at the $2-plus million."
- Noel Hooper
"I'd like to suggest that we close the Willaura and Lake Bolac pools and free up some money towards our pool."
- Jane Gibson
"I am a board member of the YMCA and I'd like to say last year the YMCA won the tenders for Lake Bolac, Willaura, Rainbow and Jeparit, so we are sending staff to look after pools way out of our zone and I find it embarrassing that we are a bigger community than all of them and we can't run our own pool."
- Pam Brennan
"I believe it is the council's job to provide services for our community and those service will always cost money. Having a quick look at the 2012/13 budget on the council website, just a few figures - the Library services cost $370,000, Tourism (including Visitor Information Centre) $560,000, Art Gallery $180,000, Gum San $145,000, Performing Arts Centre $480,000. That is just a few and they are all community assests and services that we need, but I just believe that the outdoor pool is another one of those and we just need to reorganise our budget and have a figure in there that we can cope with."
- Gayle Dadswell
"I endorse the remarks of Megan Shea a teacher in this town, I have also been a teacher in this region for 30 years and children need that cold water experience. Could we see a break down of those figures Gayle has just presented to see what percentage of those figures are actually used for maintenance on our assests because we are sitting in this lovely Performing Arts Centre and we can see paint peeling off the wall. Are we going to be sitting here in another 20 years saying we going to close the Performing Arts Centre, the Library and others? It is due to a lack of maintenance that we are sitting here now and I think council need to be more transparent with their maintenance figures."
- Chris Harris
"I know the question of money is being thrown around. I'm going to get emotional, but I was involved in a drowning accident 27 years ago where we lost a family friend and if I hadn't done all those years at swimming club at that bloody freezing cold pool with Cath Perry yelling at me, I would not have survived that accident either. My point is we drive out to Green Hill Lake last summer and see all these kids swimming out there with no protection and it happens so easily. If we had a pool here where our kids could go and be kept an eye on by adults as well as life guards - what are our children's lives worth when it comes to money?"
- Jo Collins
"My question to councillors is, what has happen to all the money that has been budgeted for the pool over the many years?"
- Ron Gibson
"Is it possible for the pool to be handed back to the community? If you don't want the pool and don't want to fund it, why can't we fund it ourselves? I think we've got plenty of smart people in the room who can do that."
- Jake Strafehl