The Board has been hoarding capital for two years by stopping other projects and not spending its annual budgeted allocation of capital expenditure. However, it is ‘use it or lose it’ time again for the Board because it only has until the end of June next year to spend the money.
Having already lost the community millions in its first year the Board doesn’t want to be caught out again handing money back to Council, hence the desperation to try and spend its hoard on making good on its election promise
But spending our rates on a swimming pool is proving very difficult indeed for several reasons.
The Board, in its lack of wisdom and foresight, decided to ditch any attempt at providing a community pool (a pool available to all, at all times) and opted instead for a school pool. This meant that Council would not fund the project. Council had previously been badly bitten on Waiheke when it provided the funding for the Waiheke Recreation Centre on school (Ministry of Education) land. The school refused the community permission to use its own facility, only allowing very limited access on a few evenings. Despite this, rates continue to be the only source of funding to maintain what has effectively become the school gym. The WRCT foolishly spent the maintenance money of ‘managers’ with the result that the gym is now in a bad state of disrepair.
The next problem is that the school has yet to say whether or not it even wants a school pool and certainly doesn’t want one on its land before the rebuild project scheduled to start in 2020. It is Ministry of Education policy not to provide for school pools because they are health and safety high risk faqcilities. Neither teachers nor schools’ Boards of Trustees want the liability for high risk insurance against drowning, nor do teachers or parents have the expertise to manage a pool.
The third problem is that even their supporters are being to question the strategy of the Board. This was evident at Thursday’s WLB meeting. The Waiheke Swimming Pool Committee (WSPC), a community group promoting a ‘community’ pool, spoke at the meeting saying an outdoor pool at the High School, the latest proposal from Walden, is the wrong approach, not least because the pool would not be commercially viable because an outdoor pool could only attract custom in the summer months.
And lastly the Board itself is now divided on the issue. Shirin Brown said she favoured an indoor pool, and reiterated there was no commitment from the school or the MOE that a pool will go ahead “so it not a reality”. Becs Ballard found her voice at last and, for the first time in two years, spoke at a WLB meeting other than to second a motion by Walden. She asked the WSPC if they would like to fundraise for the pool. The reply came back that the committee is not interested in fundraising for an outdoor pool.
Rates are for roads, parks libraries and community facilities all of which can be accessed by ratepayers. Taxes pay for education and schools.
After two years in office the ‘Essentially Waiheke Team’ of Walden, Meeuwsen, Ballard and Treadwell still do not understand their role. Rates are to provide the community with core infrastructure such as roads, footpaths, tracks, parks and other community facilities. All these have been deprived of funding to pay and are falling into disrepair to make good on an election promise the EW Team is not capable of delivering.
To put it bluntly this Board has belly flopped.
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Schools not in business of running pools