Anyone who swims regularly knows how it keeps them healthy. It’s something John Bracher and Gary Crawford know only too well. They both lived in close proximity to Bomaderry’s outdoor, 50-metre pool and are devoted users.
The effects of their regular patronage are plain to see. While others of their age struggle to keep fit and no doubt spend too much time in doctors’ waiting rooms, these two fellows are trim and taut.
So it’s perfectly understandable they are upset with the prospect their conveniently located pool might be lost to them with the advent of the Shoalhaven Sporting Precinct.
Such is the intensity of feeling over the future of Bomaderry’s 50-metre pool that Kiama MP Gareth Ward has weighed into the strictly local issue. And that was just days after Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley was chided by Mr Ward’s colleague, South Coast MP Shelley Hancock, for dipping her toes in state politics by taking a potshot at the NSW government $2 billion plan to rebuild two stadiums in Sydney.
Shoalhaven City Council is now warning that a rescission motion calling for work on the sporting precinct masterplan to be halted until the 50-metre pool is reinstated as part of the plan jeopardises funds from the state government.
It says replacing the ageing 50-metre pool will cost ratepayers an additional $7.3 million plus $240,000 a year to keep it running. That is a cost which, it says, will be borne by all ratepayers, not just those using the pool.
Those against replacing the 50-metre pool argue there is already such a pool just south of the bridge in Nowra.
They also say only 10 per cent of people who use the existing Bomaderry pool facility take advantage of the 50-metre pool.
However, those who want it retained in the master plan argue that the Nowra pool is not close enough – indeed, it can involve a 20-minute drive in busy times.
More importantly, they argue, future needs will not be met if it is replaced by a 25-metre pool. The big subdivisions planned for Moss Vale Road will add thousands of residents for whom a decent pool will be an asset.
There are merits in both arguments. And there is no certainty funding for the big sporting precinct will indeed be forthcoming, 50-metre pool or not.
The question for ratepayers, who don’t like rates hikes, is whether the cost of a new 50-metre pool is something they’d cop.