Blue Mountains News
Council Welcomes Community Feedback on Future of Parks, Pools and Play
Submissions closed last Monday after a 12 week public exhibition period. The original deadline was extended by a further 6 week period in recognition of the high level of community interest.
General Manager, Rosemary Dillon, welcomed the community interest in the draft Open Space and Recreation Strategic Plan, saying, “The type of open space and recreation services we offer in the future is an important issue for community and the City.
I would like to thank residents and others for taking the time and effort to make a submission. Consulting with the community is important and I welcome your feedback.”
The purpose of the draft Open Space and Recreation Strategic Plan is to guide how the Council provides and manages open space and sport and recreation facilities and services over the next ten or more years.
“The draft Plan that was put to the community recognises that Council’s current approach to providing open space and recreation facilities is not sustainable,” said Ms Dillon. “The way the community uses local sport and recreation facilities and open spaces is changing. Many of these facilities are ageing and do not meet modern standards.”
The draft plan is comprehensive and explores a broad range of different sport and recreation themes such as walking; bushwalking; parks; play; urban cycling; mountain biking; pools; cliff sports; dog exercise; sports grounds; and sports courts.
For example, one Council proposal is to invest in larger, more interesting play areas in the district and larger parks across the City. It also looks at funding options and potential partnerships with other providers, such as NPWS, sporting groups, and the NSW Office of Sport and Recreation.
A total of 644 original submissions were received plus 1354 template submissions. Two petitions relating to the proposal to close particular pools within swim centres were also submitted.
Submissions were made on every theme in the draft Plan, with the large majority of community comments on the themes of pools and play:
- 99% of submissions (616 original submissions plus 1354 template submissions) made comment on the theme of POOLS; and
- 69% of submissions (55 original submissions plus 1320 template submissions) made comment on the theme of PLAY
The large majority of submissions were made by residents of the upper Mountains, followed by the mid Mountains which reflect the interest in the proposed changes to Council’s swim centres, especially Katoomba outdoor pool. A number of submissions were made by people from outside of the Blue Mountains LGA.
The draft Plan proposed that all five swim centres be retained, with some of the individual pools within some centres being closed or modified to splash pads and other outdoor recreation activities. Further, the 25m outdoor pool at Blackheath would be heated to extend the swimming season and the 50m outdoor pools at Glenbrook and Lawson would remain.
This approach aims to meet changing recreation needs of the community and ensure we continue to offer an appropriate number of pools to meet industry standards, and provide the best possible services within available resources, now and in the future.
The Blue Mountains has five swim centres which is much higher than comparable local government areas with a similar or higher population. The infrastructure at all swim centres requires significant investment to replace or repair. Katoomba outdoor pool, for example, will cost an estimated $6.8 million to replace.
Council is considering options to retain different pools, including Katoomba’s 50-metre outdoor pool, in response to the high level of community interest and feedback.
The General Manager said that the Council is committed to continue looking at all options along with the community. “We will continue to look at all possibilities to get the balance right in providing recreational facilities that meet community needs, while living within our means,” Ms Dillon said.
Council did a lot of research to inform the draft plan and the options for the best possible mix of sport and recreation services across the City. This research was undertaken over a period of two years and included wide consultation with adult and children residents and sports clubs of the City. It looked at the changing community needs and demand for recreation; patterns and trends in how people use sport and recreation facilities and open spaces; and the condition of current facilities and open space managed by Council.
A report to Council with the final draft Open Space and Recreation Strategic Plan following the public exhibition is scheduled for the Council Meeting of 27 February. This will allow Council to consider the submissions and plans to conduct further investigations and consultation in response to particular issues raised through the public exhibition process. The timing is also to allow for the necessary planning and budgeting for 2018/19 financial year and beyond.
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