Mothers and their young children hope their message to council is heard.
By Ash’lee Charlton
A GROUP of Korumburra parents has launched a petition demanding the South Gippsland Shire Council (SGSC) extends the opening hours of its pools and reduce the minimum temperature required for the pools to open.
Concerned about the negative impact the changes to the running of the pools is having on the community, the group decided to take action.
Earlier this year the SGSC announced its four outdoor pools, including Korumburra, Foster, Poowong and Mirboo North, would not open unless the weather was forecast to be 26C degrees or above – a two degree increase on the previous year.
The contracts with the new pool managers, the YMCA, also stipulate the opening hours would be reduced from the previous opening time of 12pm, to 3pm.
Two weeks ago Korumburra resident Danielle Fowles set up the ‘Save our Pools’ Facebook page after she became frustrated to find the pool open on a rainy day, yet the next day when it was humid and warm, the pool was closed. The page now has almost 680 members.
Since starting the page Danielle began corresponding with fellow concerned community members Lucy Evangelista, Cate Minchin and Rachel Downie.
Along with encouraging locals to support the pool by attending each day it is open, the women came together last Thursday and Friday to start the petition.
“One of the biggest concerns for us is that the trigger points to permanently close the pools will be activated by reduced usage,” Ms Evangelista said.
“As the mother of a four year old that loves the water, the previous 12pm opening time was great.
“We were able to go to the pool, and he could get his water confidence up, but if we have to go from 3pm the older children are there.
“The trigger points are based on a very two dimensional head count. For us, facilities like this are one of the reasons we are happy to pay our rates and its being diminished.”
Cate Minchin, who lives adjacent to the pool, said she became involved after being frustrated by seeing cars drive into the pool car park on warm days, only to find it closed.
“You shouldn’t have to ring up or search Google to find out if your local pool is going to be open,” she said.
“You should be able to just wake up and think ‘I am going to go to the pool today’ knowing that it will be open.
“It shouldn’t be a negative thing that the shire has these outdoor pools. It should be used to encourage people to the area.”
Ms Minchin’s comments were echoed by local mother Rachel Downie whose children are members of the Korumburra Swimming Club, which is also affected by the changes to the opening hours and terms.
“We were told that swimming training would not be affected by the changes,” Ms Downie said.
“But when the kids went to train the other night, the pool was closed.”
Ms Downie said she spoke to council who confirmed the pool should have been open for the club to train.
She also said she has concerns if the pool is closed that it will have a negative social impact on the town.
“Where else do you get so many members of the community all interacting?” she said.
“The pool encourages families to go out and have a good time together.”
Another concern of the group is the confusing nature of the opening hours.
While SGSC stated pools would not be open unless the temperature was forecast to be 26 degrees, the YMCA announced via its Facebook page the pools would be opening across the weekend, regardless of the temperature, at the request of council.
SGSC communications coordinator Jeannie Hicks described the move as gesture by council, but the group disagrees, saying it will only add to the already confusing situation.
“At that point we simply knew that it was going to be fairly good weather so we decided to give people certainty and open the pool,” Ms Hicks said.
“It was a gesture from council for people to just go along and enjoy it. There are no plans to permanently change it.”
But the ladies are hopeful with enough community support they will be able to get the previous opening hours and conditions restored.
They spent time at the pool across the weekend gaining signatures on the petition which calls for “the return of the 12 noon opening time, resumption of temperature evaluation to the day of opening and the reinstatement of the 24 degrees opening temperature”.
The petition, which includes all of the outdoor pools, will be available in businesses in Commercial Street in Korumburra. An electronic copy is also being set up, along with being sent to the other towns affected by the changes.
Ms Hicks said until the council receives the petition, it would be unable to comment.