THE Golden Square Pool has survived yet another council meeting, as councillors strive for a brighter future for the broader recreation reserve.
But concerns remain about the pool's viability, with more than one councillor highlighting the risks involved in retaining the facility.
Councillors were tasked with deciding the direction of a master plan for the Golden Square Recreation Reserve.
They went into Wednesday night's meeting with a recommendation to decommission the pool at the end of the 2022-23 season, paving the way for a new vision for the precinct.
As it unfolded: Bendigo council meeting, July 15, 2020
The council emerged after about an hour's debate with an alternative motion, which allowed for the pool to remain part of the recreation reserve.
Six councillors supported the alternative motion, which effectively extends the existing arrangements between the council and the pool committee.
It also commits the council to progressing priority plans for all of the recreation reserve's user groups, "with a solution developed that creates certainty."
That information would be used to provide a "fully costed plan to put in place for the purposes of advocacy to all potential funding avenues."
Cr Jennifer Alden put forward the alternative motion, which councillors George Flack, Rod Fyffe, Andrea Metcalf, Malcolm Pethybridge and James Williams supported.
All except one of those six councillors was responsible for the original motion's defeat.
The option recommended to councillors by the city's staff and the project's consultants received backing from councillors Williams, Matt Emond, Susie Hawke and Margaret O'Rourke.
Story continues below timeline, which is best viewed on a desktop computer
The debate ranged from the prudence of pouring funding into a pool situated between two other pools, to the risks involved in its condition, to an appreciation for what the facility offered the community.
Councillors acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, as well as the efforts the pool's supporters had put into keeping it running.
There was a shared desire to provide certainty for all user groups. But councillors disagreed on whether the options on the table represented the best outcome for the community.
Deputy mayor Matt Emond said the vote was not just about what Greater Bendigo would lose, but what it could gain.
He was concerned the debate within the community ahead of the vote had largely overlooked the benefits people could enjoy if the difficult decision was made to decommission the pool.
The proposed plan included new netball change rooms, a new community building, new netball courts and cricket nets, a new community space, a new water play area and a new play space.
Achieving that vision was estimated to cost almost $11m.
Story continues below draft master plan
Another option, which retained the pool, was costed at $15.6m. Renewing the pool was estimated to cost $6.275m.
That plan also included developing swimming pool and netball change rooms, developing new netball courts and cricket nets, and a new play space.
Both the options councillors discussed on Wednesday night included relocating the Golden Square Bowls and Croquet Club and building it a new clubhouse, as well as both grass and synthetic greens.
There was an understanding the pool would close if there was a major failure of the facility itself.
The potential difficulties associated with securing funding for works to renew the pool were among the points raised during the debate.
Councillors also raised the value of building community.
The Golden Square Pool committee said it was "incredibly thankful" for the decision.
"We look forward to delivering the best outcomes for Golden Square for many years to come," it said.
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