3 May 2017
Mataura trust given six months for business plan
A group wanting to take over operating the Mataura swimming pool has been given six months by the Gore District Council to come up with a viable business plan.
The Council's operation of the pool end last Sunday (30 April) with one last pool party for locals. However, the pool has been thrown a life line by the Mataura Enriching Lives Trust. It met with the mayor, senior councillors and chief executive last month to talk about taking over the pool.
The Council decided to close the pool about two years ago amid growing concerns about falling patronage combined with escalating operational and maintenance costs.
Aquatic Services Manager Kim Peterson said her staff had worked hard over the years to promote the pool and attract swimmers.
“In the end, though, the cost per swim at Mataura rose to $21.21 compared to only $11.94 for the Gore Aquatic Centre, which is only 10 minutes up the road.”
Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said he had fond memories of visiting the pool as a boy growing up in Mataura.
However, the reality today was that recreational expectations are a far cry from those in the 1960s and ‘70s, Mr Hicks said.
The aims of the trust were commendable – “it’s heartening to see a group working constructively to see if there is a way to run the Mataura pool independently from the Council”, he said.
At the meeting the Trust was given six months to develop a viable business plan for the pool’s operation. Only once an acceptable business plan was received, could the Council consider leasing the building to the Trust, Mr Hicks said.
“We’ve given an assurance we won’t do anything to the pool over the next six months that will prevent the Trust from reopening it.”
However, trustees were told not to underestimate the challenges they face.
“We need to make it clear, the Council will not provide funding for the operation of the pool and needs to be fully satisfied the Trust was able to meet all the legal obligations of running a public swimming pool before anything happens.”
Mr Hicks believed six months gives the Trust enough time to finalise its business plan without compromising the ambitions of other parties who are working on alternative proposals for the swimming pool.