Council's pool plan revealed
Lismore City Council is investigating the cost of building a pool on the roof of the proposed Margaret Olley Arts Centre, complete with a massive waterslide integrated into the design of the building.
Despite a possible $20 million price tag, all councillors are believed to be in favour of the idea. Consultants have based the design on a similar integrated facility in Darwin, which is now the city’s major tourist drawcard and attracts revenue of around $12 million per annum.
Mayor Jenny Dowell said she thought the new rooftop facility would foster social cohesion and was all about bringing sports and arts fans together.
“Lismore City Council is great at pools, it’s what we do,” Mayor Dowell said. “It’s a maxim in local government to play to your strengths, and Lismore City Council’s biggest strength is its pools. Hopefully now we have something that everyone can enjoy: art and sport in the one place.
“Imagine taking a slide down the side of the building after having just viewed one of Margaret Olley’s still lifes, or one of Digby Moran’s multi-coloured masterpieces... It will be an experience that will have tourists flocking from all over the world to Lismore.”
Council has proposed another increase to household rates of around $200 a year to cover the cost of the new facility, with several million also being reallocated from the roads budget.
Cr David Yarnall, who has been a strong roads advocate, said ratepayers would be prepared to put up with inferior roads if it meant a new pool on the roof of the Olley.
“Usually I think any money Council has should be spent improving the road network, because real spending on roads has been decreased by $37 million since 1980, but in this case I think people will be happy to put up with a couple of extra potholes for a few more years,” Cr Yarnall said. “This is an ambitious, state-of-the-art arts facility and Lismore can’t afford to say no.”
Greens Councillor Vanessa Ekins, who is known to be a regular lap swimmer, said she thought the idea of having a see through wall with a viewing gallery similar to the pool at the Australian Institute of Sport was another design feature that would excite people.
“It’s like the people in the pool will become part of a living installation piece... We could use recycled Perspex or unbleached hemp glass sourced from local suppliers,” Cr Ekins said.
Cr John Chant said while he felt $200 was a lot to ask householders to pay each year, he said it wouldn’t be long before the facility was making money for Council.
“Previously I’ve been against rate rises but this is such a good idea I’ve changed my tune,” he said.
Even Council’s general manager Paul O’Sullivan was in favour of the proposal.
“Look it’s not often that the elected officials get it right, usually they should leave the business of local government to the people who are paid to do it, but in this case I’ve got to say I think this is brilliant. It will really put Lismore on the map,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
However the plan is not without its detractors, with neighbouring Richmond Valley Mayor Col Sullivan accusing Lismore of one-upmanship.
“Who does bloody Lismore City Council think they are? We’ve just started building a state-of-the-art aquatic centre in Evans Head and Lismore just has to go one better with a rooftop pool and waterslide. What next? Is Lismore going to try and steal Beef Week from us?” Mayor Sullivan asked.
When Lismore councillor Peter Graham heard the suggestion he said he thought that was a great idea and passed on his thanks to Cr Sullivan.
Although details of the official opening in 2012 are yet to be finalised, The Echo can reveal that Barack Obama will not be attending.