Pool closure creates waves

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Inconvenienced swimmers are questioning why Queenstown’s council had to close the resort’s main pool for “essential maintenance” during peak season.

The council closed the Events Centre’s Alpine Aqualand for five weeks, from November 19, after ceiling tiles started to fall down.

Queenstown Swimming Club president Sharron Payne says the closure’s been a “real inconvenience” for competitive swimmers.

“It’s a busy time of the year for us.

“I think they probably panicked, a wee bit.

“I’m sure there could have been other things they could have done.”

On the other hand, she accepts it’s a health and safety issue, “and that was the big thing for them”.

“As they said, if a tile came down into the pool when people were in the pool, they’d be lambasted for it.”

Payne also compliments the council for “trying to accommodate us” by opening the outdoor Arrowtown pool two weeks earlier and for longer-than-usual hours – even though that initially coincided with a cold spell.

Former long-time local swimming coach, Arrowtowner Frank Wylie, says the closure’s “hugely disruptive” for competitive swimmers.

“The five or six weeks [off] takes two to three months to recover from, at least, and by then your season’s over.

“You would really hope that they had some well-thought-through reasons [for the closure], and that there were no other ways they could mitigate it.”

People, he says, “hide behind health and safety every bloody day”.

Council sport and recreation manager Simon Battrick says after the problem was identified in late October, before the first tiles fell down, “thorough investigation into the cause and possible remediation” was begun.

The affected areas were isolated after the first tiles fell, but then other areas of risk were identified, “and hence, for the safety of our customers, and staff, the entire pool area was closed on November 19”.

Battrick says they did investigate options to shorten the time to complete the works, “but ultimately scaffolding the whole pool area and removing all tiles was the best solution at this stage”.

He confirms a decision on replacing the tiles has yet to be made.

The pool’s due to reopen on Boxing Day, December 26.

Meanwhile, he says the council’s looking at options to “reinvigorate” the Arrowtown pool, including an additional heating system.

scoop@scene.co.nz