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Pool redevelopment a long time coming - Gisborne Council

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Work will be begin in late September on the long-awaited redevelopment of the Olympic Pool complex.

Central Government has allocated $53 million of its $3 billion national COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for improvements to three much-loved community facilities and venues in Tairāwhiti. One of these is the Olympic Pool complex, which in its heyday attracted over 150,000 visits a year. The community has been looking to upgrade this facility since around 2006, but, although the aspirations have been high, the funding to undertake any meaningful improvements has always been beyond the region’s means . . . until now.

"The funding and investment made by Government is hugely significant to our community both from a social perspective and also economically," says Andrew White, Council director of liveable communities. "The confidence shown by the government in our region’s Community Facilities Strategy implementation, through this funding announcement, is very exciting, particularly in light of the signal it gives for the further major improvements to court, field and water recreation we are planning for across the region over the coming years."

The start of the Olympic Pool redevelopment work will be marked with a celebration as the first sod is turned next month.

Government gave Tairāwhiti the green light because Council had the project "shovel ready", had been through an extensive consultation process and had an agreed concept plan, and Council had completed sufficient detailed design to present a persuasive case for investment. Mr White said Council had consulted extensively on the concept, and, while it was never going to provide everything for everybody, what was submitted to the Government was a design that would provide our community with a versatile facility with many opportunities for a wide range of uses and experiences.

Mr White says the community will have the chance for further input in the outdoor development phase of the project around things like the water play area for tamariki, with a series of events to support the feedback.

In recent years, the Olympic Pool complex has had a growing list of major maintenance problems, with community expectations changing and a growing feedback that facilities were no longer fit-for-purpose.

The redevelopment design encourages people of all ages and all demographics to use it, with a series of new pools to serve the broadest number of people, making it a true community facility.

The 50m pool will be multi-use, and will predominantly operate as two 25m pools which can be heated to different temperatures, offer different depths and easier ways to access the water, to support as much community participation as possible. When required, it will be able to revert to a full 50m, eight lane pool, suitable for a range of events, including elite sports training and regional level sporting events, such as FINA-compliant competition swimming, water polo, underwater hockey, and surf lifesaving.

The indoor learn-to-swim pool will provide a large warm water facility and water safety opportunity that has never been able to be provided before.

The separate recreational and leisure pools will be accessible to the community and visitors year-round, with an amazing outdoor water park, as well as an indoor one.

The diving pool will remain, as will the hydro-slide (maybe more than one).

More exciting outdoor fun things are in the planning for the summer, including splash pads and news leisure pools.

The indoor pools will be available throughout winter, with the complex’s walls and doors opening in the warmer months to provide access to the outdoor pools and picnic areas.

At least one pool will remain open throughout all phases of construction for continued year-round use.

"We know there are some people in our community who want more from this development, with a strong push for an international standard 50m pool being made since the Government’s funding announcement. We welcome the interest and energy in our community and we, Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Sport New Zealand, and the pool designers will be meeting with representatives of the Game-Changing Opportunity - Olympic Pool Redevelopment Group soon to discuss their proposal and options."

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