Some Facts On The Aquatic Centre/Waterpark ‘Scoping Study’ Proposal

On 21st February Council considered a motion in relation to a ‘Scoping Study’ for a combined Acquatic Centre & Waterpark. The motion was carried by a vote of 7 : 4.

Background information was provided which quite clearly explained that Council would unlikely be in a position to fund such a project in the forseeable future. (A copy of the motion and the background information are attached at the bottom of this posting.)

It explained that the former City Council had already completed detailed designs for an Aquatic Centre (no specific waterpark included) and that the current Council had put that project on the back-burner due to the anticipated costs of the amalgamation process and the withdrawal of State infrastructure subsidies.

The concept of a Waterpark has been proposed and supported by well over 2,500 residents through a dedicated Facebook Page however it would obviously be irresponsible for Council to even consider such a stand-alone facility without first considering it as part of the Aquatic Centre which had already been designed and with the obvious savings in shared design costs, filtration costs, staffing costs, etc .

A ‘Scoping Study’ would identify the potential scale of any such facility, possible locations, most effective population benefits, design features, etc. Please note that ‘design features’ do not constitue detailed design drawings, hydraulics, etc but just the type of features that could be added to the already designed Aquatic Centre – ie, would it include a large tipping water bucket, how many water jets, water slide, etc?

Unfortunately, one Councillor plucked some figures out of the air and in a public meeting came up with his estimated cost of the study to be in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. This is not only disappointing but absurd.

It appears that confusion has resulted from the term ‘Scoping Study’ and what it entails. To my mind, it is simply a broad-scale look at what, where, why and roughly how much, so that if, down the track, a funding grant opportunity becomes available, the Council will at least be in a position to consider making an application depending on how much it would have to contribute together with its financial position at the time. I would have thought that the Council has the ‘in-house’ expertise to conduct such a study. How much the Council of the day wants to allocate to a ‘Scoping Study’ would be up to them but I would be flabberghasted if, during budget deliberations, anyone would support a $200,000 – $400,000 commitment. I certainly wouldn’t.

Grant opportunities often only apply for projects which are on the Council’s agenda and usually with some basic background work already being completed. Perhaps not ‘shovel ready’ but at least with some groundwork having already been completed. They also frequently come with a very short short timeframe for the submission of an application.

By way of example, I’ll use the Bargara Streetscape Project which I initiated well before being elected to Council….

A grant scheme (the Regional Centres Program) had been announced by the State Government which only allowed 6 weeks in which to apply. The Council of the day didn’t have any projects on its ‘books’ which met the grant criteria and certainly wouldn’t have had enough time to instigate one. As I had already carried out some ‘scoping works’ for a Streetscape Project with my own consultant Town Planner and Urban Economist and through consultation with Bargara’s business community, I offered what I had to the Council which then progressed it into a project for a RCP funding submission. The rest is history.

I can fully understand why members of the community would be concerned if their Council was proposing to spend in the order of $200,000 to $400,000 on such a study. I would too. The fact is that this was simply one Councillor’s guesstimate which he came up with to support his debate on the issue but which has now caused concern throughout the community. Others have, of course, latched on to it and even manipulated it for their own political purposes in the lead-up to the April elections.

Here’s the motion that went to Council together with the background report……

Notice of Motion – Regional Aquatic Centre/Waterpark

 

“That Council resolve to allocate funding for a Scoping Study into the feasibility of establishing a Regional Aquatic Centre and Waterpark in the 2012/13 Budget”.

 

Background

 

Prior to amalgamation the former Bundaberg City Council had progressed concept designs and costings for the establishment of an Aquatic Centre within the city environs. Such a facility is consistent with the objectives of Council’s current Sport & Recreation Strategy.

 

Following the 2008 amalgamations and the State Government’s failure to fund the merger together with its withdrawal of the 40% water & sewerage subsidy, the new Council considered it appropriate to refrain from borrowing funds for social infrastructure until such time as its financial position had stabilised and projects such as the Aquatic Centre could be revisited.

 

In recent times there have been numerous requests from the community for the construction of a Waterpark within the region. In light of the research already undertaken by the former City Council and the synergies associated with both a generic Aquatic Centre and a Waterpark it is considered prudent to consider the option of a joint facility, thereby cost-sharing any capital and operational expenses.

 

It is unlikely that Council will be in a position to fully fund such a facility in the immediate future and that significant federal or state government funding would need to be sourced to bring such a project to fruition. A scoping study would provide options of possible locations, design features and indicative costings which would then be available to form the basis for an application, if and when, a suitable grant opportunity becomes available.

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