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Motueka pool project gets the final go-ahead

November 27th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

A crucial milestone has been passed toward building an indoor swimming pool in Motueka, with the completion of the long-awaited feasibility study and an agreement signed off between the high school and the new pool operators.

The existing Motueka High School pool will be significantly upgraded and covered, with facilities added for community use, initially for at least six months of the year but in later stages for much longer.

Under the agreement, the Ministry of Education will gift the pool to the community through the management of Good Sports Motueka (GSM), and sub-lease the Wakatu-owned land to GSM.

After lots of work and negotiations, the "ducks are finally lined up", says GSM pool fundraising leader Fred Hickling.

"Now the feasibility study is done and the school has signed it off, we know that there are other people in the wings who have indicated they will make big donations once we reach this point."

After nearly a decade of planning and more than two years of community fundraising, the independent feasibility study has been finalised and agreed by all parties.

This gives certainty to the design and fundraising processes and paves the way for funding applications to national agencies such as Lotteries and Rata Foundation.

Community fundraising has so far accumulated over $200,000, and the immediate aim is to at least double that through approaches to local businesses and large donors for sponsorship, naming rights and in-kind financial support.

The high school is fast becoming a hub that is used by the whole community, not just the school and students, says school principle John Prestidge.

"Having an improved pool facility that is used by the community will be really cool. It used to be a community pool and was given to the high school many years ago, and we've used it and looked after it.

"Now it's great to be able to give that back.

"I also want to really acknowledge the perseverance and hard work of the Good Sports committee. It's been a long road for them, and it's great to see real progress now and a finish line in sight for what will be a really cool facility here for the students and for the wider community."

He says the school's Board of Trustees have helped by continuing investment in the pool such as the filtration system. They will be shifting the students' changing rooms and making changes to the deep (northern) end of the pool to make room for the eventual addition of a therapeutic pool facility.

The school's present pool operations and maintenance budget will remain the same but will be paid to GSM as its contribution to overall operations.

"Having the feasibility study finally agreed showed us as a Board of Trustees that the pool would be able to operate on an ongoing basis," says John Prestidge.

"A lot of people, including the swimming club, were involved and everyone was very keen on it happening but everyone was also a bit wary about whether the numbers stacked up or would they be left holding the baby if something went wrong."

Fred Hickling says the usage plans will evolve over the first year after the pool is covered, to see how long it can be used for and what the demand is.

"The eventual addition of the therapeutic pool will provide further heating options, as well as income from its use, and further fundraising will further extend the swimming season for the whole facility."

He says the design engineers are still refining the engineering aspects such as heating, ventilation and thermal construction materials.

The school and GSM will prepare mutually agreeable schedules of usage of the main pool, allowing students particular time for their curricular activities but public use at all other times when the pool will be open.

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