A new generation of Bangalow residents may yet be able to enjoy a swim in a town pool, despite what supporters say were ongoing attempts by Byron Shire Council staff to resist it.
While in recent times attention has been focused on the old pool at the Bangalow Weir site on Byron Creek, the supporters of a modern facility planned for the town’s sportsfields say their plans were stalled for years because of staff concerns it could become a drain on council resources.
But their pleas have finally been heard and the Bangalow Pool Trust was yesterday given the green light to lodge a development application for the construction of the pool on council land.
As far back as 2011 the group had raised $250,000 towards the building of a pool, had plans drawn up and told local media they had a government grant for $80,000 and in-kind contributions of $300,000.
But they publicly aired their concerns that staff were dragging their heels on the issue despite a council resolution to support it.
Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson yesterday finally offered council support for the DA to be lodged, but was quick to add that Council did not have funding to support the project.
‘The community has spent over a decade working towards the provision of a community swimming pool with fundraising and professional input,’ he said.
‘From a review of the concept design, the pool is not a grandiose design but a “grand design” in its restraint, simplicity and functionality,’ he added.
‘In the long tradition of Bangalow community pro-action, I’m sure the realisation of this project can be achieved by the community.’
Cr Richardson described the hands-off approach to community infrastructure as ‘very empowering’ and said it had ‘worked in a number of locations throughout the shire with community halls and buildings’.
‘Hopefully, this next step will enable the Bangalow community to achieve its goals,’ he said.
Cr Richardson also thanked the community for their continued dedication to the project.
Longtime trust president Peta Heeson declined to comment on the announcement last night; she resigned from the role after expressing her frustration to local media over the time Council was taking to progress the plans.
After a meeting with council staff in 2011, she described the staff attitude to the pool proposal as ‘flippant’ and ‘disparaging’.
Staff at the time it would be inappropriate for Council to give the group funds raised from developer contributions.
Comment was sought from the current president, Dominic Finlay Jones, but he was unavailable at deadline.
The Bangalow Pool is proposed to be located on the eastern side of the Bangalow sports field on council land that has been classified as general community use.
The plans are for an outdoor heated eight-lane pool and a shaded kids’ pool set within a large, landscaped park.
As it is the owner of the land, consent was required from Byron Shire Council.
But permission to lodge the DA will not automatically translate into approval, as Council says, ‘the Bangalow Pool development application will be determined on its merits’.