SWIMMING: Western Downs Regional Council moves forward with 25m Tara pool, despite town uproar. Pic: Sarah Reed
SWIMMING: Western Downs Regional Council moves forward with 25m Tara pool, despite town uproar. Pic: Sarah Reed

Council moves forward with 25m Tara pool, despite uproar

Council is remaining steadfast with their multi-million dollar Tara Pool Masterplan, forging ahead after thorough research, to put in a 25m pool despite a community petition pleading for it to remain a 50m facility.

At a Western Downs Regional Council ordinary meeting in Chinchilla on Wednesday, January 20, council passed a motion to replace the 50m pool with a 25m pool and increase its budget from $3 million to a whopping $6.03 million.

Strategic Communications and Council Facilities councillor Megan James, said she cared deeply for the project, and although she had been emotional at times, she was determined to ensure the community of Tara got the state-of-the-art facility they deserve.

"I genuinely wanted to make sure we considered all aspects… I have taken it upon myself to learn what I can about swimming facilities and training," she said.

While in Kingscliff, Cr James said she visited a swimming facility in Tweed that had produced Olympic greats, even though it was a 25m, six lane pool.

"One thing has become very clear, the facility doesn't create champions, it's the coaching, the commitment of the swimmer, and the club spirit that produces champions," she said.

"And if that's the case, then Tara has this in spades, there is nothing stopping those rising stars of the Tara Dolphins."

Although elite swimmers who are looking for a larger pool, Ms James said they would have to travel to one of the three 50m pools an hour's drive from Tara.

"I know it isn't ideal, but we're country people, when our kids get to elite levels, we generally drive to take them to the next level of training," she said.

The plans angered many community members across the district who felt the reduced size of the pool would be detrimental to the community's sporting events and local economy.

Finance, Corporate Services and Business Strategy councillor Ian Rasmussen put forward a foreshadow motion that if the motion failed, he would move that the additional $3 million for the project not come out of the council's pocket.

Mr Rasmussen said although council is in a great financial position, any other council would ordinarily seek 50 per cent external funding from federal or state government.

"If we fund it ourselves, we need to consider the $3 million dollars is equivalent to 4.2 per cent of our annual rate intake," he cautioned councillors.

"Our long-term financial sustainability model is based on a 2.5 rate rise per year, add on the 4.2 per cent, and we are looking at a 6.7 per cent rate rise next year - I don't want to do that to our community.

"We need to make economically sound decisions."

In response to Mr Rasmussen's motion, Ms James said she feared it would take the state government years to approve funding, especially considering they just approved to co-fund the $5 million-dollar Tara Lagoon Project.

"We can't afford to wait for extra funding, we need the legacy of those community minded people who built the original pool to live on, and for the Tara swimming community to go from strength to strength," she said.

The motion was passed in ageeance with Cr James for the additional funding, and an eight lane 25m pool, with a disability access ramp, pool deck suitable for competitions, pool heating and solar panels.

Councillor Ian Rasmussen, and Councillor Peter Saxby, voted against to motion.

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