For want of a pool for Parramatta

Darryn Capes-DavisParramatta LGA

I have been following the case of Parramatta Pool since 2016 when NSW State Government announced the relocation of the Parramatta War memorial Pool to make space for the new Western Sydney Stadium. I support the Western Sydney Stadium and will be wearing my Eels members cap proudly on Easter Monday 2019 when the stadium opens. However, the speed at which the replacement pool has progressed is disappointing.

While many blame the NSW Government for demolishing the old pool without a replacement, the Government has been spearheading the process for the replacement pool. The NSW Government has provided $30M capital for a like for like replacement. They have provided space for the pool within Parramatta Park Trust land. They are welcoming of receiving the business case to Infrastructure NSW to release the $30M capital promised.

At the start of the year City of Parramatta Council were also on the front foot, resolving at the 12th February Council meeting to endorse what has been known as Option 2A, a contemporary Aquatic Leisure Centre, club room, change rooms, café and car park. This option was to be developed to a $75M budget, and NSW Government asked to commit to 50% funding.

During the year the 50% funding has been the death of the current process. 50% of $75M is $37.5M. So without NSW Government upping their commitment from $30M, debate at council has ensued until last night’s Council meeting.

While debate has mostly been behind closed doors, what we do know from Council minutes is that there has been a push to limit the project to $60M so to get started. However, the debate has also centered around the fact that $75M project provides for the best business case. This has led to motions being passed and rescinded. Last night Lord Mayor Councillor Andrew Wilson attempted to break the impasse and get the project moving, only to have his Mayoral minute fail to gain the required votes to pass.

Labor has been playing games with the pool. A press release by Shadow Minister for Sport, Lynda Voltz, had the Daily Telegraph report that Labor has promised to fund $75M. However, the press release only talked about pools, not an Aquatic Leisure Centre as proposed by the 12th February Council resolution, one of the resolutions that still stands after this tumultuous year. When questioned Labor has yet to reveal what the funding amount is, only to keep saying ‘fully funded’. So, the general public will believe they will fully fund the Aquatic Leisure Centre. However, it may not be a cent more than the $30M the NSW Government has committed.

So where to from here? Labor councillors should stop playing games with the residents of Parramatta and stand by the council resolution to build the Aquatic Leisure Centre. Our pool can’t come a moment too soon!

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