Splash the cash

Murky water: Council's plans to replace fallen ceiling titles at Alpine Aqualand still aren't clear

Just over a decade after open-ing, it appears Queenstown’s public swimming pool needs a $2.3 million repair job.

Alpine Aqualand, in the ratepayer-funded Events Centre, was forced to close for five weeks last summer when ceiling tiles starting plunging into pools near the hydroslide and ‘Lazy River’.

At the time Queenstown council’s sport and recreation manager Simon Battrick told Mountain Scene there was no issue with the structure of the roof but the tiles were filled with moisture.

The pools were drained in November and 2000 tiles remov-ed to ensure no one was hurt.

It reopened on Boxing Day, but the new ceiling was just a temporary plastic cover.

On Tuesday, the council’s own finance boss Stewart Burns made a submission to the annual plan hearing saying millions are needed for “tile replacement” and “ventilation improvements”.

The $18 million Frankton-based swimming pool, on Joe O’Connell Drive, opened its doors to the public on May 31, 2008, after more than a decade of planning, consultation and development.

Over the past few weeks, Mountain Scene has asked the council whether it had found a solution to the problem, how complicated the issue is, and whether the popular pool would be closed again.

But we’ve been told council didn’t have further details.

It was “working through options but no decision has yet been made”.

After Tuesday’s multi-million dollar revelation, the paper asked for an interview with someone from the council to explain the cost of the remedial work – this request was declined.

Instead, an email statement – attributed to Battrick – was issued, providing no clarity.

“Today’s submission for tile replacement and ventilation improvements at Alpine Aqualand is a recommendation to council for its consideration as part of the annual plan submissions process,” it reads.

Following the opening, the project’s designers and builders claimed gold at a number of national competitions due to the “design complexity” and “outstanding level of workman-ship”.

ASC Architects were involved in the project, and director Neil Cotton tells Mountain Scene he’d heard second-hand information that “something has happened”, but council hasn’t contacted the company.

He’s put a call in to council to find out exactly what’s going on.

“Obviously they [tiles] can’t get wet, but they are designed not to get wet.

“We were very pleased with how it turned out – it’s one of our favourites,” Cotton says.

The project’s builders, Naylor Love Ltd, also haven’t heard from council, so couldn’t provide any more information. Designers LHTDesign said the staff member involved with the pool died a few years ago and the nature of the business has since changed. Council will make a final decision next month.