A new aquatic centre costing up to $48 million has been earmarked for Cessnock’s Turner Park.
The first issue of a draft feasibility and design report for the centre was endorsed by Cessnock City Council on Wednesday.
Turner Park on Aberdare Road was chosen as the preferred located of six sites that were assessed.
Two options will be considered for detailed business modelling and further concept development.
The estimated cost for an entirely-indoor centre would be $48 million, while the alternative (with a 51-metre pool located outdoors) would cost $39 million.
Both options would include a 25-metre indoor pool, a warm water/therapy pool, a learn-to-swim pool, a spa, sauna, leisure water/water play area, meeting rooms and car parking.
A 51-metre pool allows for the pool to be divided into two with a one-metre boom in the middle, effectively doubling the amount of lanes available at a time.
Current financial modelling based on the next 10 years showed that it is more effective to build a new facility than to keep funding repairs and maintenance of the existing Cessnock Pool (which was built in 1935).
Council has set a target of $20 million in external funding for the project, from programs such as the National Stronger Regions Fund and NSW State Government Sports and Cultural Fund Grants.
“Whichever facility option council adopts as the new Cessnock Aquatic Centre, the community should be excited about this project,” Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent said.
“We will now progress with a detailed business model, further concept development and final feasibility and design for both medium and high embellishment options for the community to consider.”
Cessnock Pool Users Group spokesperson Diane Partridge said the bigger pool should be built indoors so it can be used year-round.
“If it was built outdoors we would not be able to use it six-to-seven months of the year,” she said.
“And if we only had a 25-metre pool indoors, we would have the same problem as Kurri in the winter – not enough lane space.”
Mrs Partridge – a previous winner of the Masters Swimming Australia official of the year – said a state-of-the-art facility with all pools located indoors will attract high-level swim meets.
“It will be a centre of excellence with the versatility to cater for families, high-level swimmers, coaches and trainers,” she said.
Cessnock Pool Users Group represents two junior swimming clubs, Masters, lap swimmers, water polo and water aerobics participants.
Group chairman Phil Murray said the high-embellishment option would cater to the needs of the community.
“It has everything that we’ve lobbied for – the hydrotherapy pool, the 51-metre indoor pool, the 25-metre program pool,” Mr Murray said.
He said the group was pleased with the Turner Park location, although concerns were raised about the size of the club room and the amount of parking.
“We only hope existing users can be relocated to a convenient location with improved facilities,” he added.
The other sites assessed were Mount View Road, the TAFE Park, East End Oval, Maitland Road (East Cessnock) and the former Cessnock City Bowling Club site on Aberdare Road.
Options to relocate current user groups of the Turner Park site – including Hunter Valley Football and Peden’s Cricket Club – will continue to be investigated.
A draft plan is expected to be on public exhibition by mid-2016.
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