Pool demolition move is "breaking the heart of community"

No way forward: Georges River Council has voted for the demolition of the Kogarah War Memorial Pool at Carss Park. Picture: Chris Lane
No way forward: Georges River Council has voted for the demolition of the Kogarah War Memorial Pool at Carss Park. Picture: Chris Lane

"We are collectively breaking the heart of our community," Georges River Councillor Kathryn Landsberry said, describing a move to demolish the Kogarah War Memorial Pool at Carss Park.

Georges River Council voted last night to authorise the pool's immediate demolition on receipt of the appropriate development consents to eliminate the current risk to the community, the environment, and the council.

The council supported this in a Notice of Motion lodged by Cr Warren Tegg and seconded by Cr Sandy Grekas.

Speaking in support of his motion, Cr Tegg said legal advice showed a threat to community safety and the threat to the council and councillors individually by not proceeding with the demolition.

"We paid extra for a QC to confirm those exact same things. The risk to public safety, the risk to the council and the risk to councillors are real, they are genuine and they need to be dealt with," Cr Tegg said.

"We are not here to try to demolish memories. You can't get rid of those with a bulldozer. We are here to get rid of a pool that is well past its useful life. The pool will be demolished, razed to the ground and either replaced with a new pool, or it's going to be replaced with a playing field.

"Advice before us is if we want to turn it into a playing field, it will cost in the millions-of-dollars. If we want to turn it into a pool, it will cost of hundreds-of-millions of dollars.

"If we vote against this motion tonight, it will have placed the community and the environment at unnecessary risk."

But Kathryn Landsberry said the wording of the motion was misleading because voting for it would not mean the immediate demolition of the pool, which would still have to be subject to a DA, currently before the Southern Sydney Planning Panel.

"It concerns people. They think the pool demolition is going to start immediately," Cr Landsberry said.

"I cannot tell you how upset our community is that we have gone through yet another summer and we are no closer to identifying the site where we are going to rebuild the pool," she said.

"I think it is a sad indictment of the dysfunction of this council. It feels like we are so polarised. There's one group of councillors who have got a tin ear to what the community has asked them time and time again to do."

Cr Landsberry said other Local Government Areas have listened to their community's needs and have opened new pools such as Green Square and Ashfield. Simultaneously, the renovated Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain is about to open and North Sydney is in the planning stages for its new pool.

"We have only one aquatic centre serving 160,000 residents. (The roof at Hurstville Aquatic Centre is being repaired). Meanwhile, people are going as far afield for a swim as Engadine and Roselands. I have been told it's really difficult to do laps at Sans Souci because of the number of people going there.

"This council needs to get on the same page and commit to building an aquatic facility, ideally at Carss Park, which is where our community wants it, and not be diverted by the insane prospect of an aquatic facility at Netstrata Jubilee.

"I don't want to swim in a subterranean dungeon swimming pool. The NRL might think a training pool would be nice if they redevelop the (Jubilee) stadium. A third aquatic centre is not going to be constructed at Jubilee to service our community's needs.

"The community doesn't want the Wet and Wild of the South. They don't want the biggest and the best. They want somewhere to take their kids for swimming lessons or to do a few laps for themselves.

"The motion here tonight is calling us to demolish it with no plan. How about we wait for these feasibility studies. Wouldn't it be amazing that what comes back that Carss Park is actually feasible and that we could, with a collective mind, build an aquatic centre in the locality that our residents have asked us to do, not underground at Jubilee Oval, which is some pie-in-the-sky dream. I can tell you that will never happen."

Mayor Kevin Greene supported the motion to demolish the pool.

"We need to get this whole process moving," he said.

"This motion is not about where we are going to build a third aquatic facility. Those studies are underway.

"The only way a new facility is to be built - if it is at Carss Park - is for the current structure to be removed."

The motion to demolish the pool was supported 7 to 6.

Voting for the motion were Crs Kevin Greene, Steven Aguis, Sam Elmir, Sandy Grekas, Lou Konjarski, Nancy Liu and Warren Tegg.

Voting against were Crs Vince Badalati, Con Hindi, Rita Kstanias, Kathryn Landsbery, Leesha Payor and Colleen Symington. (Crs Nick Karis and Christina Wu were not at the meeting).

Cr Con Hindi said he would file a rescission motion.