Shire looks for help to avoid deeper pool debt

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have refused to lift the cost cap on the Rosebud Aquatic Centre.

In March, the council capped the centre’s budget at $41.57m, but the latest estimates now put the cost at $46.63m.

The net cost to council was put at $36.57m after taking into account $5m from the federal government, $3m less than was sought.

In a bid to avoid delaying construction of the centre, councillors last week accepted a design for an eight-lane pool and agreed to seek expressions of interest and then tenders from builders.

But they refused to accept the $5m increase and instead will consider a “funding strategy” over the $41.57m cap once tenders have been received.

While no grants have been received from the state government, it has offered the shire a 15-year $10 million loan.

The mayor Cr David Gill told The News that fresh applications would be made for state grants next year.

He said the decision to seek tenders from builders was made because delays were adding up to $180,000 a month to building costs.

“There’s so much building going on [elsewhere], that costs just keep rising,” he said.

The design by Peddle Thorp Architects adopted by council is described by the shire’s aquatic centre project leader David Hampton as being light-filled with soaring ceilings and curved roofs that “give the appearance of a sand dune structure along Boneo Road”.

“Breakout spaces and void overlooking the entry creates a sense of volume and entry celebration,” Mr Hampton stated.

After a similarly enthusiastic description of the building’s exterior, Mr Hampton’s report moved onto costs which, he said, had increased since the 2017 business case.

The original 10-lane pool had risen by $6.5m and the eight lane version by $5.06m, with the details being contained in documents not available to the public.

The pool is so shallow at one end that only experienced swimmers will be able to have a dive start during competitions. And even then they must dive in from the concourse and not from diving blocks.

“For school carnivals, with less experienced swimmers, competitors in a relay race will be required to start at the shallow end, in the water,” Mr Hampton said.

However, it appears the architects have not had it all their way, with Mr Hampton reporting “there remains a difference in professional opinion on some visual presentation elements”.

He said some “key recommendations” had been knocked back by the shire-appointed design advisory panel.

He said the panel preferred timber columns on the aquatic centre’s Boneo Road frontage whereas Peddle Thorp Architects had argued that timber columns was “excessively expensive … give the building a heavy appearance and results in alternate light and dark shading of the aquatic interior space”.

The architects had wanted walls of perforated metal “allowing filtering of interior light, cost efficiency and giving lightness to the building fabric”.

While the architects wanted “the vast interior of the aquatic hall” the panel wanted separate the panel wanted “a series of coffered spaces within the ceiling to express a human scale”.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 4 December 2018

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