No decision on pool ‘good news’

THERE is still no decision on an appeal to have Wodonga’s mothballed Stanley Street pool heritage listed.

OPINION: Wodonga ratepayers should demand a rebate.

More than six weeks after an appeal hearing the three-member panel of the Heritage Council of Victoria is yet to issue its verdict on the significance of the pool site.

The pool site and neighbouring Richardson Park have been offered for sale by the city council following the pool’s final season last year.

But several objections had been lodged under the banner of the Friends of Wodonga Olympic Pool.

An attempt to put the pool on the heritage list was rejected in May but in November the Heritage Council of Victoria spent a day listening to arguments for and against that decision.

Heritage listing would protect from or limit further development of the pool site.

Former Wodonga resident and now associate professor of law Margaret Young nominated the pool for consideration by Heritage Victoria.

She said she was encouraged by the appeal panel’s interest and questions.

“Initially they said a decision would be made by Christmas so the fact it has now gone beyond that deadline gives us reason for optimism,” she said.

“Under cross-examination the council’s own expert witness conceded that the pool was of at least local cultural and social value.

“He still maintained that it was not of regional significance but we would beg to differ.

“Interestingly the panel dismissed a draft historical inventory done by the council in 2004 that did not include the pool.

“They said the work that they were doing was far more in depth than that study.

“We take heart in believing that what they were saying is that the original inventory referred to and relied upon by the council was not of great importance.”

Dr Young said the lack of an outdoor pool this summer due to delays in the construction of a new aquatic centre at White Box Rise was history repeating itself.

“Construction of the Wodonga pool started in 1959 and is an example for all Victorians of the move away from natural and potentially hazardous swimming spots to artificial baths that could be monitored for safety,” she said.

“It seems the lack of an outdoor pool is again forcing people back to the river and Lake Hume.

“Ratepayers have a right to be disappointed they don’t have an outdoor pool this summer and their money is spent defending the belief their old pool is of no real value to the community.”

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