By HARRY CLARKE
RESIDENTS of Tara are unhappy that a swimming pool built by community volunteers and funded by residents in the 1960s will be halved in length when it’s ‘upgraded’ by the local council.
A $6 million dollar redevelopment being carried out by the Western Downs Regional Council will involve the demolition of the historic 50-metre pool and its replacement with a new 25-metre facility.
The council insists the works are absolutely necessary. A response to angry residents last month said engineering assessments found the current facility was a significant safety risk due to the “deflection and subsequent concrete spalling of the concourse”.
The pool has now been closed. WDRC said in a statement the redevelopment project is now in the “design” stage and is estimated to be completed in time for the 2022-23 swimming season.
“Council is moving forward with a $6 million project to replace the Tara Pool which is in an extremely poor condition and cannot be used beyond the current pool season,” a WDRC statement said.
“The project will involve replacing the pool with a new 25-metre pool with eight lanes and an additional disability lane and ramp, heating, solar blankets, sunshade sails, state of the art filtration system as well as delivering a new kiosk and amenities.
“This decision was based on several factors including the shortest lead time for construction, overall cost of the project and overall ongoing costs to maintain the pool, as well as advice from industry experts.”
The redevelopment has been welcomed by many in the community but there remains are large contingent unhappy that the longstanding 50m pool will be halved in length.
The Facebook group Save Tara Memorial 50m Swimming Pool has close to 700 members while a Change.org petition amassed more than 2,400 digital signatures. Tara’s population at the 2016 census was 2,300.
Among the residents dissatisfied with the council’s engineering solution is Gayle Porter (pictured above), who said her written complaints to the council, Warrego MP Ann Leahy and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk fell on deaf ears.
“This isn’t an upgrade, it’s a downgrade,” Ms Porter said.
“People are outraged and ostracised by the decision. The Tara Memorial Pool was built by volunteers in the 1960s for the community.
“A 25-metre pool will not be suitable for carnivals, triathlons and training. We are against the downsizing of our pool. It is our pride and joy to have such a beautiful amenity in our town.”
Respected local businessman and former Tara swimming club president David Gunther has also been vocal in opposing about the redevelopment, highlighting several other towns in the region which enjoy full length 50-metre swimming pools.