Port, Thirroul ocean pools to open longer

Wollongong City Council staff have recommended changes to the annual swim season at Port Kembla and Thirroul ocean pools that will extend the season by two weeks.

A council audit of attendance figures at both pools, conducted earlier this year during a trial extension of the longer season, found there was demand to extend the season by four weeks – from the end of April to the end of May.

However, staff recommended the opening date of each season be moved back two weeks to begin the first weekend of October because of the cooler ocean temperatures in spring. The additional two weeks each season is expected to cost the council $11,000 per pool.

The council’s audit found an average of 111 swimmers a day used Port Kembla pool between April 28 and May 31, and 67 used Thirroul pool each day during the same period.

In a report to next Monday’s council meeting, council staff attributed the turnout to warm ocean temperatures extending into late autumn. They said in comparison, water temperatures at the beginning of the swim season remained cold until at least October.

‘‘[This provides] an opportunity to slightly amend the season to meet the demands,’’ the report said.

Cr Ann Martin, who voted in favour of the trial extension in April after lobbying from Port Kembla pool users, believes the recommendation is a ‘‘reasonable compromise’’.

‘‘I’ll be interested in what the swimmers have to say; I’m happy if they’re happy,’’ she said.

‘‘But I think the principle of starting later and finishing later is reasonable.’’

Cordeaux Heights resident and regular Port Kembla pool user Amabile Cunzolo said yesterday she had mixed feelings on the recommendations.

‘‘I’m disappointed they are suggesting that it doesn’t open to coincide with the September school holidays,’’ she said.

‘‘The pool gives parents a cheap and healthy way to keep kids entertained during the holidays.’’

However, Mrs Cunzolo said she was happy the pool could be staying open until the end of May because that was what swimmers wanted.

Councillors will vote on the proposal on Monday night.

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