MANAGEMENT of the Foster Pool should be handed back to the community. That is a key point in the newly released document, ‘A Vision for the Foster Swimming Pool 2014.’
The Vision calls for:
- Taking management away from the YMCA in favour of a newly constituted Foster Pool Association Inc (FPA) who would become responsible for all management issues, including fundraising to upgrade the facilities.
- Establishment of a fundraising subcommittee to guide the sourcing of additional funds and income for the pool;
- Continued subsidy by South Gippsland Shire Council of pool operations at an agreed annual amount indexed to CPI;
- The FPA to work towards efficiently upgrading the heating of the pool, with Council contributing to costs;
- The FPA to explore season opening and operation hours with a view to extending them and boosting attendance;
- Giving high priority to installing heating and shading/wind protection for the pool.
- Very much a community effort, the Vision was prepared by the Foster Pool Working Group and presented to Council last Wednesday by the coordinator of the group and current president of the pool committee, Ian Lyon.
“This is not a call for Council to stump up money,” said Mr Lyon. “What we do need is Council support for applications to state and federal government for funding.”
He called for Council to “take the monkey off our back” and no longer subject Foster Pool to a review process which has already prevented the preparation of the master plan promised by Council and is placing the future of the pool under a cloud.
“This is our version of a master plan,” said Mr Lyon, explaining that the Foster community had taken the matter into their own hands because they felt so strongly about their local pool. Working in pairs or individually, Foster Pool Working Group members researched the information that was collated to produce the Vision.
The report makes the point that there is significant support for the continuation of the pool from local schools, staff and clients of local health facilities and the University of the Third Age, with each saying that they would use the pool more given an upgrade to heating and other facilities.
Mr Lyon emphasised the enormous community support for the pool. This is evident from the response to a community survey carried out by the pool committee last year; from the response to an extra question on shire pools (as to whether they should be supported even if it meant rate rises) in Council’s own Community Satisfaction Survey; and most recently from the OurSay online community consultation for the shire budget. Spending on the Foster Pool garnered more votes than any other issue. Second was the Mirboo North Pool. (Representatives of Mirboo North Pool made a presentation to Council a week earlier, outlining plans for a $2.8 million redevelopment of their pool, which is in need of major structural work.) Shire councillors have been left in no doubt as to how much their ratepayers value their local pools.
Mr Lyon told Council that a fundraising raffle for Foster Pool, held over several days in Foster’s main street, raised $3700, with many people donating, unsolicited, large amounts to the cause.
“The jury is in when it comes to whether the community values Foster Pool,” declared Mr Lyon. “The question is not: Is there a future for the Foster Pool, but how can the pool best go forward?”
His presentation was very well received. Several councillors remarked that they were very impressed with the high standard of the report.
Shire officers will take the Vision into account when they prepare a report to Council this month in relation to the Aquatic Strategy, which is currently under review.