Pool neighbours ready to dig in

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Standing their ground . . . Pat Bowman (left) and Robyn Thomson, supported by their neighbours, take a stand on the recommended site for a new aquatic facility outside their units in Mosgiel. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Neighbours surrounding a recommended site for a new $15million aquatic facility in Mosgiel are slamming the Dunedin City Council for its lack of communication.

The backlash comes after The Star last week revealed Dunedin city councillors will vote on adopting a recommended site for a facility on Tuesday.

In a statement released to The Star, council parks and cemetery manager Scott MacLean confirmed the council was recommending a new facility be built at the south end of Memorial Park, on the site of the car park, near the grandstand.

“We’re recommending this site because its centrally located, accessible for pool users and will limit the impact on Memorial Park sports grounds.”

The site responded to preferences of the community, who did not want it built in the Memorial Gardens, he said.

The existing pool would remain open while the new facility was being built, he said.

No decision had been made regarding the future use of the existing pool site.

The council had recommended a new car park be created north of the new facility, at a site that includes a Athletics Taieri long-jump pit.

Other improvements include better vehicle and pedestrian access, fencing and landscaping.

The intersection of Gordon Rd and the Memorial Park entrance would be upgraded.

The new pool was a joint project between The Taieri Community Facilities Trust and the council.

The trust is contributing $4.2million and the council is spending $10.8million on the pool facility, as part of its 10-year plan 2018-28.

When The Star broke the news on the recommended site last week, neighbours got in touch to share their concerns.

Robyn Thomson lives in a unit on a back section in Gordon Rd, about 10m away from the recommended site.

When she saw council staff visiting the site on Monday, she approached them to raise concern about a new facility blocking sunlight from entering her home.

The council staff reassured her the roof on the facility would be stepped so sunlight would continue to enter her home.

Despite the reassurance, she was concerned the facility would impact negatively on the value of her home.

A neighbour living in a unit next door, Pat Bowman, shared Ms Thomson’s concerns about the prospect of a towering facility.

“It’ll be like living in a prison . . . Robyn and I are both from the country originally and I bought here because I wouldn’t be built in.”

Another dozen residents in Gordon Rd, who live near the site, slammed the council for its lack of communication on the recommendation.

“Some door-knocking would have been good,” Ms Thomson said.

She felt the council’s process had left the residents with “no voice”.

Mr MacLean said last year, the council proposed designating Memorial Park, Memorial Gardens and Peter Johnstone Park for community and recreation purposes in the council’s district plan.

The purpose of the designation was to help with future improvements of the area’s parks and recreational and community activities, including the new pool.

Information about the publicly notified designation process was widely distributed, including a letter drop to residents in the immediate area.

Feedback from submitters was considered by the commissioner and specific conditions were included in the designation, which was approved in March this year.

The conditions relate to the location and size of new buildings on the site to protect the open space, recreation and residential amenity, and community values.

The council would decide on the pool site at its meeting on Tuesday.

“Once the site has been confirmed, the design of the Taieri Aquatic Centre will start.”

Construction would begin next year, he said.