Tuesday, August 19, 2014

monbulk pool officially turns one

Well it’s official, the Monbulk Pool Redevelopment was officially recognised at it’s one year community birthday party. 

It’s been quite a journey for the community and the pool.

The talk about redevelopment started back in 2004 when the council of the day allocated $2million towards the project, for whatever reason unknown to me and before my time as a councillor, council reallocated the money to other projects. 

Talk about the project did not recommence until 2009. In 2010 a planning permit was issued for the $6.1million redevelopment project. In July of that year, council signed off on $7million for the project. After the tender process in 2011 the project was costed at $8.4million. I had to ask my councillor colleagues at Yarra Ranges Council for an increase in funding 3 times as the scope of the project evolved and to their credit they agreed to additional funding on every occasion.
The new gym is a great addition to the Monbulk Pool,
boasting one of the best views from any gym, anywhere.

In 2012 construction commenced, originally the pool was scheduled to open in April 2013, but eventually opened in August, 2013 at a cost of $8.7 million with council contributing $7.12million, state government $837,500 and federal government $742,000.

There were many construction challenges along the way, there was the surprise find of asbestos buried underneath the pool and admin buildings, the site shutdown due to dangerous trees, the issues with water and electricity connection and I can confirm that yes you do fill a 25mt pool with a garden hose (and it was a very chilly day to be playing under the hose!).

It was terrific to be part of an all women team overseeing the project, a rarity in local government, myself as ward councillor along with Julee Scott – Manager Major Projects and Jane Sinnamon – Manager of Urban and Built space, their input and support was invaluable.

Special thanks must go to members of the Project Steering Committee, Bev Hocking, Jean Gillard, Monbulk Aquatic Club members Gaby Mitchell and Donna Stewart, Mantric Architect David Newstead, Yarra Ranges Officers Ben Bainbridge and Ron Pearce and Belgravia staff, Frank Van Der Kraan and Helen Hostettler. To Helen specifically, she played a key role, the link between the pool users and pool manager. Her dedication to making sure we had the best available refurbishment that delivered on community expectations was exemplary. She spent countless hours gathering community input and provided a sound level of advice in the development of plans – she was a wonderful person to have as part of the project and a great advocate for community.

The response from the community has been wonderful and visitation has well and truly exceeded expectations, to June 2014 over 155, 000 people have visited the pool and estimations have visitation at over 170,000 for 14/15. The important element of community has not been lost with the redevelopment. Monbulk Pool has always been an important part of the community, more than a pool, a meeting place and hub of social activity and support, and it’s great to see it’s still playing this fundamental role to the Dandenong Ranges community.

A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday was sung and I was delighted to cut the cake with Helen Hostettler.

It’s wonderful to have legacy projects and the Monbulk Pool is one I’m very proud of.

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