Disabled win pool access battle

  • October 3, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

Whangarei’s disabled community will soon find it much easier to take a swim at the city’s Aquatic Centre, with long-awaited improvements set to be made to the pool’s entrance.

Work is about to start on drive-up access and disabled parking at the front entrance and should be completed by Christmas. In 2006/7 the Aquatic Centre had a major make-over, which included a therapeutic pool specifically requested by the disabled community.

The complex was opened last September but sparked dissatisfaction from disabled people, who found the long, narrow, uphill path to the entrance difficult to negotiate.

Sport Northland could not fund access improvements, so months of negotiations have taken place between the disabled community, Sport Northland and the Whangarei District Council. The council agreed to pick up the $45,000 bill and awarded the contract to Robinson Asphalt.

Jonny Wilkinson, chairman of the Disability Sector Reference Group and Tiaho Trust chief executive, welcomed the improvement.

“It’s great to see the democratic process working well through the last Annual Plan process when so many people really affected by this problem made their voices known. It was quite a uniting issue for the community I represent.”

Long term, Mr Wilkinson said he wanted to see the access-way covered.

Councillor Vince Cocurullo said it had been a lengthy process but the changes needed to be made.

“I’m really happy to have the contractor on board about the whole job, giving us the best bang for our buck.”