Council continues to ponder future of Caringbah Leisure Centre

Caringbah Leisure Centre will stay open in the short term, but a question mark hangs over its long-term future.

An update on Sutherland Shire Council’s thinking was provided as a morning tea was held to mark the swim centre's 50th anniversary on November 30.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce and other councillors shared a birthday cake with staff and patrons.

A year ago, a council survey of residents suggested closing the leisure centre, which requires a costly upgrade, among a wide range of options for meeting major financial challenges.

This followed the council backtracking on a 2015 move to seek a public private partnership (PPP) to redevelop the site occupied by the leisure centre, library and other council facilities in conjunction with the Hay Avenue council-owned car park.

The sites, which are about 300 metres apart, were to have been “packaged” before expressions of interest for a joint venture were sought from the private sector.

However, the council had second thoughts and never implemented the decision,.

“In 2015, council recognised that renewing Caringbah Leisure Centre could not occur in isolation of the other community facilities around the town centre and the town centre itself and considered a PPP model as a way forward,” a council spokeswoman said.

”Closer consideration found that such a model would not, at that time, deliver the best overall community outcomes.

“Surveys undertaken in 2017 showed community support to maintain Caringbah Leisure Centre.

“Council was and continues to be very mindful of the need for prudent long term financial planning and the need to ensure financial sustainability.

“All major infrastructure improvements by council considers these fundamental aspects for the betterment of its current and future community.”

Regular leisure centre users questioned Cr Pesce about the future of the facility at the 50th  anniversary morning tea.

One long-time patron said Cr Pesce assured them both in general conversation and during a formal speech the council had no plans to close the pool, but also did not have the money to upgrade it.

“I told him that our population is increasing and we need to maintain what community resources that we have,” the swimmer said.

Coincidentally, Cr Pesce revealed he had also turned 50 this year, and that he learnt to swim at Caringbah pool.