By 10 May, WCC wants community views on the draft Community Facilities Policy and Implementation Plan. The TRA is formulating a position but we’d like to hear more from Thorndon residents, especially on our draft submission (refer below).

In their document (Community facilities Policy – Part B Aquatic Facilities Implementation Plan) the Council recognise there is a shortage of pools in the Wellington region for both Aquatic education and Aquatic sports activities and are proposing some options to meet this shortfall as part of the Long Term Council Community Plan.

Council have a number of proposals which include partnered construction of new School pools and joint development of existing School pools. There are also proposals for the development and upgrading of Council pool facilities. Following on from this there are four Investment and development options for consideration which range from continuing with the existing plans (status quo) to running with a full schedule increased investment program.

With respect to the Thorndon pool the plan includes a proposal to add a retractable roof in order to extend the pool’s season of use from the current 5 months of the year up to 10 months. The funding for the retractable roof is included in all the council options apart from Option 1 (status quo) and no single proposal sticks out as more favourable for Thorndon other than the timeframe for implementation which varies slightly.

In their report Council put strong emphasis on Aquatic Education and Learn to Swim along with making the most of existing pool space. Whilst other pools such as Karori and Keith Spry have been earmarked for the development of teaching pools, Thorndon pool appears to be classified with Freyberg as an aquatic sports facility rather than a pool for use by children. Whilst the retractable roof on Thorndon pool might be a valuable addition to the pool, from the TRA and community perspective it would be desirable for the council to transition the pool to a more children and family oriented facility with a shallow learner area and in the long term the addition of a toddler pool.

To this end we think the Council should consider in its proposals ways to make Thorndon pool more versatile. One way to achieve this relatively cheaply would be to fit a moveable bulkhead. (This is the narrow rigid floating pontoon type structure which sits across a pool). Such a bulkhead would allow the shallow end of the pool to be sectioned off for learner classes and at other times the bulkhead could be moved to the deep end of the pool to divide off such activities as Water polo and underwater hockey training. As the Thorndon pool is 30m long by approximately 12m wide, sectioning off say 5m of the shallow pool end would still allow for standard 25m training lanes and if the full 30m length needed to be utilised the bulkhead would simply move to the end of the pool.

Changing the layout of the pool in this way would go hand in hand with the council objectives of making the most of existing pool space and improving aquatic education opportunities. The revised layout would be a step towards TRA objectives of making the pool more of a community facility. Furthermore the council might be pointed in the direction of developing other family facilities on the site such as a toddler pool.

Our suggestion is to respond to the council proposals with the following submission:

  • TRA wish to ensure that any future development of the Thorndon pool includes provision for the pool’s use as a community facility with emphasis on increasing pool areas for children and toddlers.
  • TRA in principle supports the concept of a retractable roof for the pool providing that this is aesthetically sympathetic and maintains the historic nature of the pool as an open air facility. (To this end the TRA should join with the Thorndon Society to ensure this ensues)
  • TRA propose the council include a movable bulkhead in its plans for the pool to allow the shallow end of the pool to be divided off for children and learner use. The installing of this bulkhead should be on a more immediate timeframe than the retractable roof.
  • That the council include in its longer term plan the concept a toddler pool on the site (sited perhaps over the plant room?)
  • The TRA can equally support any one of options two, three or four of the proposed Investment and development options providing these include the issues identified above. The TRA does not support option one (status quo).