Discussions to replace the costly Adelaide Aquatic Centre on Park 2 with a new facility run by the Crows have been shrouded in secrecy for almost a year, with the council yet to receive a formal proposal despite agreeing to progress to stage two of its “unsolicited bids” process nine months ago.
The drawn-out process has fuelled speculation, prompting north ward councillor Mary Couros to last month successfully lobby the council to issue a 20-day ultimatum to the Adelaide Football Club to release its plans or abandon the process altogether.
Her motion called on the council to set a December 10 deadline for the football club to submit “detailed concepts for their proposed facility to Council for public release in the agenda and papers”.
However, tomorrow night’s agenda, released on Friday afternoon, does not include any concept plans from the Crows.
It instead states that the club will outline the “current status of their submission”, including a draft proposal, at a public meeting to be held at five o’clock tomorrow evening at Town Hall.
The decision has riled some councillors aligned with the minority voting bloc opposing the Crows’ proposal, who in an email chain sent to elected members and the council’s executive leadership on Friday – seen by InDaily – complained that the Crows had delayed releasing information.
“I am assuming the Crows’ proposal will now lapse?,” area councillor Robert Simms wrote.
“It is, my view, now a dead Crow plan,” north ward councillor Phil Martin responded.
Simms told InDaily this morning that the “spirit” of the council’s decision had not been met.
“I think the community is entitled to ask why is the information not being provided when they are entitled to it,” he said.
“More importantly the councillors haven’t been given the information, so we are being asked to make a decision when we are only going to be given the information an hour beforehand.”
But Couros, who said she is yet to decide whether to support the Crows’ proposal, said there was “nothing to dispute” so long as the Crows provided councillors with their draft proposal at the five o’clock meeting.
“The AFC coming into a committee meeting prior to council and it being open to the public allows for better transparency and also gives us the opportunity to question them,” she said.
“If the proposal doesn’t sound good then we won’t go ahead, but we do have to address the future of the Adelaide Aquatic Centre.
“I am not going to let it continue to go down as it has for the last 15 years.”
InDaily contacted Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor for comment.
A council-commissioned “needs analysis” report outlining the current status and future viability of the 50-year-old Adelaide Aquatic Centre states city ratepayers could be forced to cough up $21 million to fix the ageing centre in the short and long term.
However, demolishing the centre and returning the site to a park lands setting is also likely to cost up to $7 million.
“The existing facility has effectively reached the end of its lifecycle and requires significant investment in the next ten years,” the report states.
“As a result of its age and the staged development… it has relatively poor facilities for children, health and wellness users and the crèche while it is at practical capacity with the swim school program.”
The report states the net performance of the Aquatic Centre is operating at an approximate $1.03 million deficit when compared to the benchmark average for other best-practice facilities.
It recommends four options for future management of the centre, including council ownership, State Government ownership, shared ownership with neighbouring councils or private or sports club ownership.
“There are very few locations in Australia where a new facility would have this level of demand, hence the location is unique,” the report states.
The council’s administration has proposed it consult the public about the Adelaide Football Club’s plans for 10 weeks starting “no later than 13 January”, with findings to be presented to the council by the end of March.
According to a ReachTEL poll commissioned by the Adelaide Park Lands Preservation Association – a staunch opponent of the Crows’ proposal – three in four people want the Aquatic Centre to stay in public hands rather than have it redeveloped by the football club.
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