An aerial view of the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.
An aerial view of the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre. David Nielsen

Aquatic centres sinking feeling

THE Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre is operating at a loss and not attracting the crowds originally expected, Lismore councillors were told on Tuesday.

Conceding that the benefits of the state-of-the-art centre may have been overestimated and the cost underestimated, the council’s finance officer Rino Santin said the situation ‘was not encouraging ... or flattering’.

The council’s Arts, Tourism and Leisure program manager Wendy Adriaans confirmed that the centre had reduced staffing levels since it opened in April as the anticipated crowds did not materialise.

She told councillors that ‘teething problems’ meant they did not know how many people were using the aquatic centre so could not determine the size of the loss.

The centre came in about $2 million over budget at $15 million and opened four months late.

It has since had problems with its air-conditioning and the heating of the single pool, which is part lap pool and part recreational pool.

Ms Adriaans said lap swimmers wanted cooler temperatures, while recreational users wanted warmer temperatures.

She said the rising cost of electricity had also blown-out expenditure.

The centre had since reviewed its budget and was focusing on revenue-raising activities like its learn-to-swim program, Ms Adriaans said.

She said many of the teething problems associated with a new business had been resolved and the centre’s outlook was much brighter.

A council spokesperson yesterday said gym membership was now higher than expected and about 70 to 90 people used the stadium every week night.

A detailed report will be ready to present to council in February.

The centre has a 600m{+2} heated pool, a large gym and two full-sized multipurpose indoor sports courts and numerous meeting rooms.



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