Mayor Burnett in talks for 'priority' Tannum Sands pool
THE company leasing Gladstone Aquatic Centre would pursue its vision of a purpose-built pool for high-demand programs only if it was what the community wanted.
But Gladstone Regional Council's priorities for the region's next pool lay in Tannum Sands, with mayor Matt Burnett saying he had "preliminary discussions" about possible joint funding with member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher.
Cr Burnett said Tannum's only pool at the primary school "isn't big enough" for the community.
"The next pool that needs to be built in the Gladstone area is Tannum," he said.
"But we've got to make sure when we build that it's in the right location and that it's affordable.
"My personal opinion, without even speaking to them, is that the best location is Tannum High School."
Outsourcing operations of Gladstone Aquatic Centre to Lane 4 in September last year has cut the council's maintenance costs by almost $1 million.
Yesterday, Daniel Mulvey, Lane 4's chief executive officer, told this paper preliminary investigations suggested it would need a longer lease to justify investing in a new pool, with the current lease just three years.
"Our company is committed to Gladstone for the long term as we are with all of our contracts," he said.
"Anything that happens has to be a mutual benefit for the community as well and that's what we've got to work towards figuring out.
"(The new pool) is a longer-term vision."
Cr Burnett acknowledged a longer term on the lease would encourage increased investment, but a shorter-term lease ensured the lease holder was competitive.
Seven companies showed interest in operating the pool when it went to tender and five companies submitted tenders.
"You do get better results when you have longer-term contracts, but you do push everyone out of the market as well," he said.
Centre manager Michael Bennett said the centre's growth as a business was limited only by the "available water space", with a new pool potentially creating space for other services and programs.
Mr Bennett said demand for water recovery sessions from sports teams and the rolling out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Gladstone in 2018 were an opportunity for future growth.
But Mr Mulvey stressed Lane 4 would move forward with the "vision" only after it had consulted the community.