It's been a long time coming, but under the Administrator of the Northern Beaches Council, the actual costs of the new Andrew Boy Charlton Swim Centre have finally been revealed.
The new indoor Swim Centre opened on 13th August, 2016
For years the non-Liberal Councillors on Manly Council put up motions (that were refused to be put on the agenda by the General Manager); made requests at the Audit & Risk Committee (that were ignored) and contacted the Office of Local Government (to no avail) in an attempt to find out the actual costings and progress reports of the new indoor centre. Requests for a business plan for the operation of the Centre were also ignored by the then General Manager, Henry Wong.
Clr Barbara Aird also worked tirelessly for local residents over the issues of major traffic and parking concerns in relation to Kenneth Road which was re-configured three times, and yet still remains unsatisfactory, dangerous and inadequate.
What Is the Cost?
The original budget was $15m and this was the result of a government subsidised loan at 1.56%.
The final cost was $27,356,250 and was funded as follows:
The new complex is big. The upstairs gym is big. And the building is imposing, not relating in any way to the RM Graham Reserve next door. But there is no doubt it will be popular with kids and families offering a large range of pools and activities.
The task now is to ensure that the new Centre is popular and profitable.
Although 'officially' opened over the weekend, the new Andrew (Boy) Charlton Indoor Swim Centre and gym will not be opened to the public until early August.
.Former Mayor of Manly, Jean Hay, officially opened the new Swim Centre in the presence of former Olympians, amateur swimmers, the Premier and Local Member Mike Baird and other official guests, while a number of determined local residents held a peaceful protest outside.
Touring the vast facility one had to be impressed by the expanse of space, the open-air feeling and attention to detail in the internal design. A number of large 'portholes' look either out onto the outdoor pools, into the pumping station, or overlook Graham Reserve.
However, concerns about the revenue that will need to be generated to operate the facility (as well as pay off the $15m loan included in the estimated total cost of $26m) was in the backs of the minds of many as they observed the large gym with state-of-the-art equipment; a spa; sauna; creche area and three sparkling-clean pools. The additional staff bill of $900,000.00 pa to operate the Centre was also revealed this week by the Northern Beaches Council as part of its 2016/17 budget.
Undeterred, regular swimmers did laps outside in the original 50 metre and 25 metre pools in the cool June sunshine.
The Swim Centre will be closed for its usual winter maintenance on June 24 reopening in the first week of August.
Since the 2010 Masterplan for LM Graham Reserve was adopted by Manly Council, many changes have been made. And yet, the old Plan has never been updated for public review.
,At the February Council Meeting, Clr Candy Bingham of Good For Manly, was successful in gaining agreement that the Plan be updated, but not without the usual argy-bargy.
What has become typical of Manly Council meetings, a simple suggestion that an item be updated so that the public can be keep informed, become an opportunity for the Mayor to lecture all present on the merits of the updated Plan. It was good to know that at least one Councillor knew what was happening!
The current 2010 Plan on Council's website shows tennis courts (which now aren't happening due to lack of support) and do not include newly created cricket practice areas for example.
Want to know what's happening? Here's a summary from Council staff:
Watch this space. The updated Plan will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.