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Investigations into proposed replacement pool for Thames will continue

15 December 2017

With Thames Centennial Pool needing to be replaced within 10 years, our Council has approved $65,000 to carry out further investigations into building a new facility.

(Photo: A learn-to-swim class at Thames Centennial Pool)

A feasibility study has already been carried out which identified three potential sites in the Thames area for the proposed "Eastern Waikato sub-regional aquatic facility". Now, the $65,000 allocated at this week's Council meeting can be used to carry out further detailed assessments, including geotechnical investigations, of the sites in order to prepare a final recommendation for the location of the proposed new facility.

Thames Centennial Pool was built in 1967 and while the pool tank is in a reasonable condition for its age the surrounding concrete aprons have substantial cracking and lifting according to a 2014 condition assessment report. The lifespan of the pool tank is estimated to be 7-10 years.

Further, Centennial Pool is on the site of an historic urupa and our Council is in agreement with Ngati Maru that a replacement pool will not be built at this location and that the site will be vacated by 2027.

A 2013 review of sports and recreation facility needs for the Thames Ward proposed a new aquatic centre as well as a new skate park, indoor sports facility and replacement of the Rhodes Park grandstand and clubrooms.

The Thames Powerco Skate Park has been completed, the indoor sports facility (Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre) is nearing completion and a proposal for multi-sport clubrooms at Rhodes Park is to be investigated.

The Thames Community Board has stated its preference for a new aquatic centre as Centennial Pool is at capacity and Thames is well placed to provide a sub-regional facility serving the district and greater Thames Valley.

A like-for-like replacement of Centennial Pool offering the same level of service wouldn't cater for the growing demand for leisure swimming for all ages and learn-to-swim classes.

In addition, the Waikato Region Sports Facility Plan recognises the potential of a sub-regional aquatic facility being located in the Thames Valley area, potentially involving partnerships between our neighbouring district councils.

The 2013 review, "Thames Ward Sport and Recreation Facilities Review and Future Directions", says: "The greater Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts justify one quality indoor aquatic facility with multiple water spaces to cater for all markets (leisure, fitness/competitive, Learn-to-Swim, health and therapy)."

A sub-regional aquatic centre could include the following attributes:

  • An indoor 25-metre pool of eight lanes
  • A learn-to-swim pool that can double as a hydrotherapy pool
  • External dry and wet children's play area
  • Changing rooms, including family/whanau and disabled changing rooms
  • Reception area with adjacent shop and café
  • Bleachers for approximately 500 spectators attending school swimming galas
  • Hydroslide

Next steps

Once the preferred location is identified, our Council will have a chance to examine the proposed site in more detail.

Then, if more budget is allocated for the project under the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan, resource consents can be prepared and we can seek expressions of interest from architects and engineers in order to come up with a more refined concept, including a design of the facility.

You will have a chance to submit feedback on the proposal under the Long Term Plan public consultation that we'll hold in March and April 2018.

The main budget for actual construction of the proposed aquatic centre is estimated at $18M-$22M, depending on final specifications. This spending would be proposed under the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, and again there would be an opportunity for public feedback.

We would also be seeking funding from external partners to help meet the costs, much as we have done with other projects, including the Thames Powerco Skate Park and the Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre (link to these).

Construction could then begin and is anticipated would take about three years, meaning the replacement for Thames Centennial Pool would be completed well before that site needs to be vacated.
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