Stanley Street pool set for immediate destruction

WODONGA Council last night gave the green light to demolishing the Stanley Street pool.

The decision was a last-minute item on the monthly meeting’s agenda and comes just two working days after an appeal to have the pool heritage listed was rejected.

The recommendation removes councillors from the equation and gives chief executive Patience Harrington authority to negotiate contracts of up to $150,000 to pull down the buildings and fill in the three pools.

Last night’s meeting heard the battle through Heritage Victoria and the subsequent appeal, fought largely by two Wodonga-raised sisters, had cost the council more than $31,000, including almost $10,000 in legal costs for a one-day appeal hearing in October.

The council estimates the cost of demolition at about $100,000 and another $50,000 to backfill and compact the site.

The unanimous decision included not placing a heritage overlay on the site that would have further limited future development. 

The councillors were unanimous and unequivocal in their support.

Cr Anna Speedie said the pool had history but was not historic.

“We need to use the site for the betterment of the community. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a park, it is about the best use for the community and stimulating opportunities for work and new businesses,” she said.

“There have also been arguments that this issue has fallen on deaf ears, that the pool is historic — but this report from Heritage Victoria clearly states that it is not historic and I can say that it has not fallen on deaf ears, I have been working on this, with the community, since 2007.”

Cr John Watson learnt to swim in the Stanley Street pool and said he hoped that future developments would respect that heritage and applauded the community passion to retain the pool.

“We had people who wanted to fight for their assets and the community and yes they lost the battle but it’s important to have that fight, respect democracy,” he said.