Pool delay amid claims of blow-out

AFTER enduring months of gibes for not diving straight into the pricey WACA pool deal, Perth council’s now waiting on the state government to get a move on and provide concrete plans amid rumours of a cost blowout. 

Throughout 2021 premier Mark McGowan repeatedly urged the council to pitch in for a three-way WACA/council/state deal to build a pool before the opportunity slipped away. 

Unaffordable

But the newly elected council and lord mayor Basil Zempilas were wary they’d end up with unaffordable maintenance costs. Aquatic centres can end up being huge burdens for local governments, like the costly Beatty Park in Vincent or the ever-expensive Bayswater Waves.

In August 2021 the council finally settled on paying a one-off capped $25m contribution, on the proviso they wouldn’t be on the hook for decades of endless upkeep bills which could’ve ended up bringing the total to $150m.

negotiation window for the state government to present plans to the council’s satisfaction but it’s taking longer than they hoped.

While the WA government says it’s all proceeding as planned, the lengthy negotiations have been costly for the council as its legal bills for negotiation keep piling up past $20,000.

Deciding whether to grant an extension or pull out of the deal altogether at this week’s meeting, Cr Brent Fleeton said: “I am frustrated that it’s been six months since we passed the resolution and we still can’t reach an agreement for a pool.

“We don’t have the budget to keep paying lawyer fees that the state has. The state has the [State Solicitor’s Office], we don’t, so ratepayers are paying for the state’s delay here.

“I hope the WACA project hasn’t blown out by too much ‚Äî we all hear things in this environment, Cr Fleeton said. “I don’t know if we’re still going to get the same pool we had last year,” with details to come in a development application in the next few months.

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas said while the delays were costly, “it can’t go on forever, and a six-month extension seems reasonable … we want to see this delivered”. 

by DAVID BELL

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