Splash­ing out on a swim­ming com­plex

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - JA­NINE RANKIN

St Peter’s Col­lege has pro­posed the city coun­cil help it build a $29 mil­lion to $32m swim­ming pool com­plex on its prop­erty.

Prin­ci­pal David Olivier and board of trus­tees chair­man Robert Coulson put the pre­lim­i­nary plan to the coun­cil’s sport and re­cre­ation com­mit­tee last Wed­nes­day.

Mayor Grant Smith said it was great to see the col­lege ‘‘shoot­ing for the stars’’.

‘‘But I took a huge swal­low when I saw the price.’’

The pro­posal arose partly in re­sponse to re­cent ap­proaches to the coun­cil about lack of ac­cess to pool space for club and ca­sual swim­mers, and for sports such as ca­noe polo.

‘‘Cur­rently, Palmer­ston North’s pools are over­flow­ing,’’ Olivier said.

He said the pro­posal was for a 50-me­tre pool, which would be 25m or 10 lanes wide.

It would have a mov­able floor to ac­com­mo­date pool depths rang­ing from 0.9m to 3m so it could be used for wa­ter polo, ca­noe polo and un­der­wa­ter hockey, as well as swim­ming.

There would be seat­ing for at least 1200 spec­ta­tors, cre­at­ing greater ca­pac­ity to host na­tional events.

Those events would bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the re­gion, es­ti­mated at about $2m a year.

Olivier said the land was owned by the Catholic Dio­cese, and the church was com­mit­ted to mak­ing the site avail­able.

Coulson said the school and coun­cil were un­likely to be able to af­ford the build­ing with­out re­gional or na­tional sup­port.

Dan­nevirke swim coach Lin Tozer, one of those who has talked about the need for more pool space, said af­ter the meet­ing that the coun­cil should spread its in­vest­ment.

‘‘If there is that much money avail­able to spend, they should be look­ing to cre­ate more ca­pac­ity for learn-to-swim, rather than ca­ter­ing for an elite sport.’’

Cr Lew Find­lay said the pro­posed new fa­cil­ity could be­come the pre­mier wa­ter sports venue, with the ad­van­tage of freeing up space at other city pools.

Cr Dun­can Mc­Cann said he sup­ported ‘‘the lofty am­bi­tion’’.

How­ever, spend­ing on that scale would have to be put off un­til af­ter the city had in­vested in im­prove­ments to its wastew­a­ter treat­ment.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

The so­lu­tion to Palmer­ston North’s over­flow­ing swim­ming pools could be a new world-class fa­cil­ity pro­posed by St Peter’s Col­lege.

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