City of Newcastle will vote tomorrow on a strategy which would set aside $1 million a year to maintain and improve its five inland pools over the next two decades.
The Inland Pools Strategy 2043 recommends spending $1.25 million in the near future on installing platform lifts at Lambton, Wallsend, Stockton, Mayfield and Beresfield pools to improve accessibility for people with mobility challenges.
Other work within the scope of the plan includes new pop-up walls to split the complexes' 50-metre pools in two and redeveloping the entry, cafe and retail spaces at Beresfield, Mayfield and Stockton.
But the strategy says more expensive capital works, such as building indoor heated pools at Lambton and Wallsend, constructing water playgrounds and replacing change rooms, would require significant state or federal government funding.
The plan includes an engineering consultant's assessment that the pools' ageing shells will not need replacing in the next 20 years, work which would cost more than $300 million.
The strategy attracted 124 public submissions when it was placed on public exhibition from April 12 to May 12.
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that the convener of We Love Lambton Pool Alliance, Anna Glasby, believed the strategy "fails to provide any clear vision" for the pool's future.
She said the council should not "push through" approving the strategy this week but take more time to review the public's feedback.
The council has put together a group of community representatives called the Inland Pools Community Network to consult about the swim centres' future.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes told a media conference at Lambton Pool on Monday that the strategy would establish a restricted sinking fund to "future proof" the pools.
The council is spending $140,000 on a new playground at Beresfield over the winter break.
"We'll also looking in the coming years to do the heat pump and solar panels to increase the water temperature there," Cr Nelmes said.
"The feedback from the community is that particularly in ... spring and autumn it gets very cool.
"We've got [heat pump] projects going at Mayfield and Wallsend, and after we get those done we'll be doing that at Beresfield."
Labor councillor Margaret Wood said the 20-year plan "nails the accessibility needs".
"When these pools were all built back in the sixties and seventies, nobody really thought about accessibility, but now it's front and centre of our strategy, and I'm delighted with that's really some of the first capital expenditure we'll have in the strategy," she said.
Venues NSW's master plan for the proposed Hunter Park sport and entertainment redevelopment includes an indoor aquatic centre near Hunter Stadium, but the NSW government has not committed to the project.
Cr Nelmes said it was difficult to prepare a 20-year strategy "when you don't know if adjacent to the major pool here at Lambton" the government would build a swim centre "very similar to this".
"We will not only maintain this facility, we will look at how this facility will be used in other ways for the community, so it would be a facility which has green open space and parkland and a water slide and more of those recreational-type facilities if Hunter Park goes ahead."
She said Mayfield and Wallsend would "take on more recreational pool users" if the state government built an squatic centre at Hunter Park.
She said the pool strategy did not propose changing entry fees to the council's pools.
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