Swimming in the Park

Discussions about the Braidwood swimming pool have been underway for a number of years and have involved the Braidwood Community Association since its formation (link). Initially the conversations were about an indoor pool.

My post about the Ryrie Park playground (link) led to some questions about what was happening with the swimming pool plans. This post clarifies these swimming plans as some people appear to be hearing different versions and timelines.

I have spoken with the Swimming Pool Group about the phased plan they have agreed with the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) (link) (https://www.qprc.nsw.gov.au/Home) for the swimming pool. The overall objective is a relocated pool that is 25 metres in length and has 6 lanes. This pool will be heated and will have much improved changing rooms and a separate family changing room.

The total estimated cost of the completed project is $2.5 million. It is difficult to gain a grant of that magnitude and so a strategy was developed for a staged development based on an architect-informed master plan that incorporated all the community’s needs, and even allowed for the possibility of an indoor pool, heated and available all year round. 

This phased strategy is based on strengthening the use of the pool by increasing comfort, encouraging new users, and extending the swimming season. The development of the playground has meant that families will be able to combine play and swimming if they so choose.

With the strategy in mind, the priorities set for Phase One are: a properly heated pool; and comfortable changing rooms. The plans for this Phase include a kiosk or cafe  servicing the pool and the playground. The kiosk/cafe would be leased to private operators paying rent to QPRC. We think this would provide a vital service to the community, and potentially reduce the overall running costs of the pool and help to cover any additional costs associated with heating the pool and changing rooms. The intention of this Phase One is to increase the use of the pool and lower the running costs.

Roger James developed detailed plans to rework the shell of the existing changing rooms to provide total enclosure, with roofs and windows, new showers with hot water, better toilets and seating, a separate family changing room, solar heating, floor mats, clothes’ hooks and a bright happy atmosphere.

The kiosk/cafe is designed to serve both the playground and the pool. It includes the control point for pool entry as well as a station for overview by lifeguards, helping to reduce staff costs. The kiosk/cafe is attached to, but independent from, the pool. The roofs of the changing rooms are orientated in different directions to optimise exposure to the sun for the solar heating of the pool and changing rooms. The improved comfort in the changing rooms and the heating of the existing pool would encourage more users, allow for an extended season and provide better conditions for the children and instructors for learn to swim and in squad sessions. 

Phase Two involves the demolition of the existing pool and building a new 25 metre, 6 lane facility. The aim is to heat the pool to appropriate standards. The heating that served the existing pool could be reused in the new pool which would be orientated in an east/west direction in order to preserve the toddlers’ pool, provide better access/exit to changing rooms, optimise the supervision from the control point, provide some wind protection, and ultimately, allow for the enclosing of the pool at some future date.

Thanks to our local member for New South Wales, John Barilaro, the state government has set aside $1 million in the last budget for the Phase One of the project. John is enthusiastic about the whole scheme and thinks the staging of the building is appropriate. QPRC has supported the proposal from the beginning. 

A grant application for the $1m was prepared by QPRC and submitted in October this year with an outcome expected in January / February 2020. The Swimming Pool Group is currently working with QPRC and John Barilaro’s office to secure funding for Phase Two.

Playground developments have transformed the Park. The Swimming Group feels strongly that the improved pool will add to the attractiveness of the Park. The Swimming Pool Group trusts this post will clarify any issues about versions and timelines and provide shared information. It hopes too the post can be a reference point in conversations about the pool and its integration with the Park as an intergenerational play space that enriches our community.

To summarise the Phases of the plan:

  • The pool discussions have been carefully planned to include as many people as possible.
  • Substantial care has been taken to integrate the Park and Swimming Pool experience.
  • Phase One is due to start in March 2020 subject to grant approval. It will focus on the comfort of visitors to the pool and includes a kiosk/cafe to service the Pool and the Park. Heating the pool at appropriate standards is a central component of Phase One.
  • Phase Two will start at the end of the swimming season after Phase One is completed and subject to funding. This Phase involves a re-orientation of the pool and its increase in size.


Photo Credits

All pictures in this post are taken from Roger James’ presentation to the Braidwood Community Association (link) in March 2019.

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