On Monday, executive director Regional and Rural Health Services Susan Heyman announced Armidale hospital's hydrotherapy pool would close permanently.
She said it was due to the ongoing challenges of keeping it running in line with health and safety standards, and, "In recognition of Armidale council's funding to build a new, fit-for-purpose hydrotherapy pool for the community."
The "recognition" was a "well placed" statement of fact.
In mid-September last year, Armidale Regional Council accepted funding worth $1.093 million to build a public hydrotherapy pool at the Monkton Centre from the Member of Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall.
Council's contribution to the project was to be $394,000.
But, at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Cr Di Gray left no doubt that council simply could not afford to advance the project.
"I think it needs to be acknowledged that while we have the grant funding, we do not have the cash reserves, or the means, to do the co-contribution that's required for the hydrotherapy pool," she said.
"It is sad that when we were putting forward for this funding that we were able to belief that there would be co-contribution ability.
"That's obviously not the case, and the situation has got even worse in line with the quarterly review. We do need assistance if we are going to make this happen for our community."
Ms Hayman wished to assure the community that the decision to close the hospital pool was not taken lightly.
"Between general maintenance due to the age of the pool, back-flushing the pumps for chlorination, and topping up the water, the pool uses approximately 9000 litres of water a week," she said.
"This is a significant amount of water that could have many valuable uses in this drought stricken region.
"Pool health and safety standards have changed significantly since 1978 [when the pool was built].
Council CEO Susan Law told Wednesday's meeting that council had not received the funding, but had been given assurances by the State Government that the money would be available should council proceed with the project.
"We have been in discussions with the State Government, and we have flagged to them that there has been some questions about how we might proceed," she said.
"But we don't have any assurances that they will extent the expenditure of it."
Following an extensive debate council resolved to form a sub-committee of five councillors to urgently look at options to ensure the hydrotherapy pool project progresses. The five would also consider the options of an enlarged gym and outsourcing the management and operation of the complex.
Council will seek support from the NSW Government to retain its commitment of $1.093 million funding to for the hydrotherapy pool.
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