Sunday, July 26, 2009

Swimming in Debt @ the Rosebud Pool: Desirable, yes ..... but Affordable?

This is a suggested post by a follower of MornPenCouncilWatch:

I am concerned that the SPA project being pushed by the MornPen Shire is simply not affordable.

I agree that such a facility would be a major benefit for the Rosebud Community but with current Shire Borrowings this project cannot be funded without huge borrowings. The State and Federal governments may chip in $5m but where is the other approximate $15m coming from? Maybe Mr. Hunt and Mr. Dixon could get more $$$ allocated to this project being as they are pushing hard for it.

Current Shire liabilities of $42M (probably more now with additional borrowings) means that we cannot afford such a luxury. To obtain moneys from rates would see immoral percentage increases that would simply not be acceptable to ratepayers.

How much is operating this facility going to cost? Based on Pelican Pantry at Hastings, one can suggest this facility is not going to come cheap. Are we ratepayers ready to dig deep?

It would appear from the form letter being pushed by the Shire that the
Only question is where should it be located. The Shire appears to be pushing for the Rosebud foreshore but I would conclude this is not feasible due to the necessary infrastructure needs (car parking, etc) that such a facility would require and lack of DSE approval. We already give up huge chunks of foreshore land to tourists camping for several months a year at great pain and cost to us locals.

To argue that there used to be a pool at the foreshore site is fair but the SPA project isn't just about a pool. Also, why was the old pool removed? Simple answer is that it suffered major defects due to the location and now the Shire talks about putting a huge development on the same location.

If the project was to proceed, it should not be built in a location where Climate Change pressures will be most apparent. If the project is such a goer, then having SPA located off the foreshore should not be a hindrance to attracting the people to the place.

We ratepayers need to know at what initial cost and ongoing operational and loan interest costs this service/facility is going to be. There is $400K allocated in the coming budget for proposed SPA planning work and one should question whether this money will be well spent based on the questionable ability to fund the total project years down the track.

I would like a luxury motor vehicle and a magnificent mansion but if I can't afford it, I can't have it. SPA is in this same category.

What do other ratepayers think? Do the MornPen Shire need to be told by Ratepayers to back-off.


  1. A well written post and needs a comment. This is becoming an interesting subject around town. The Rosebud Chamber are out spurking and the foreshore location is the one our Council prefers. What does our DSE have to say? And it really is about time the cost of this project was openly debated. Our Councillors should take a stand! At what cost is Pelican Park to ratepayers? It would be nice for some answers.

  2. As a Hastings resident I have to say I was surprised that Pelican Park with all the accolades it has been recieving over the years ,has been heamoraghing money - ever since it opened! according to local news.
    Folk over in Rosebud would probably not appreciate their Foreshore being
    "cluttered" any more than it already is.
    Full access to the coast (waters edge) and presevation of bush land along with the wide open spaces are vital to the health and wellbeing of the Local Community.
    Pelican Park is a very good Community asset
    contributing with training etc But am wondering if this type of activity although sorely needed is the responsabilty of a higher level of Government.
    The Shire executive need to run Local Government not business and not be taking responsability and debt of either State or Federal Government.Our Councillors should be ensuring the Shire undertake and fulfil the responsabilities of a Local government only.


    I received this from a friend in the USA and it makes me wonder what we are getting and for how much? It ain't cheap to build an ice rink and a community pool!!!

    Joe Lenzo

    Hi Joe. Great to hear from you from down under.

    Our pool cost about $9.5 million and we have a competitive pool, a plunge pool for the two indoor slides and an indoor family pool (zero depth to 3’ depth).

    Outside we have a kiddy pool (zero depth to 2’ deep) and a circular 5.5’ deep pool with two smaller slides.

    The other side of the facility is the ice arena and locker rooms.

    If you go to our web site, you can access some photos of the facility at: click on recreation and the All Seasons Center.

    Paul Clousing, City Manager (CEO)
    Sioux Center, Iowa USA

  4. Certain council staff at decision-maker level have a decidedly partisan approach to the (supposedly undecided) location of the 18 million dollar aquatic complex
    The Mail recently carried a story that pointed to the council website and a page devoted solely to garnering support for the (supposedly undecided) foreshore location.

    From the MornPen website 20th August:

    "Rosebud is the main activity centre for the whole Southern Peninsula and a location in central Rosebud will be selected to make sure the new leisure complex will be within easy reach of the community.
    To support SPA on the Rosebud Foreshore - visit our SPA Needs Your Support Webpage "

    End of quote

    By golly, those council officers had clean forgotten to offer a facility for people to register dissenting views on the (supposedly undecided) foreshore location
    Somebody's then realised that their agenda was showing and the SPA Needs Your Support Webpage was hastily deleted early this month, somewhat ineptly though, they clean forgot about "the smoking gun" reference quoted above, lying quietly at the bottom of another page on the council site

    Seems they also clean forgot the 13th commandment - Don't Get Caught

    It's a fundamental tenet of government at all levels that bureaucrats assess proposals on their merits and report to council in a non-partisan manner. This is clearly not happening at this shire. This behavior is a serious corporate culture problem and is the chief executive's ultimate responsibility and if the CEO is failing in this respect then it becomes the councillor's responsibility to stamp it out. So, councillors, how about it? Are you comfortable with these kinds of things happening on your watch?

    SPIFFA is in no way opposing the establishment of a community aquatic facility, although the reports of 15,000 dollars plus a week losses suffered by the Hastings complex are cause for concern and we could certainly suggest more "sustainable" ways of absorbing nearly a million clams a year of our rates indefinitely

    For council to be entertaining building this facility on public open space crown land and not on council land (Olympic Park, the Rosebud "sports node" for instance) is disappointing, even before we address vegetation and climate change considerations

    SPIFFA, neatly in line with official state and federal coastal and climate change policy, laws and regulations, simply opposes any development whatsoever, on any foreshore, anywhere

    As we also oppose and resist subversion of statutory processes by non-elected, partisan officials

    The lobby and the petition

    The pro foreshore development lobby is very well organised and funded and has placed petitions in many shops, erroneously stating that the only thing holding up building on the foreshore location is some kind of intransigence by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (it's DSE land) and demanding that parliament over-rule DSE. They believe that 10,000 signatures will prompt a minister to to just that
    The petition itself is a patently deceptive gambit by local vested interests, in that that no site has been chosen so DSE is not yet formally involved i.e. council has not applied to DSE for permission under the Coastal Management Act
    Have you signed this petition yet? If so, perhaps you need to contact the Rosebud chamber of commerce to ask that your signature be struck off as the petition statement is plainly misleading
    Sadly, our local federal and state representatives are amongst the loudest spruikers for a foreshore location and enthusiastic participants in the attempts to pre-empt and usurp proper legal planning processes
    We sincerely hope our councillors take a more far sighted, independent and considered view of the siting of the complex

    Philip Jensen
    Southern Peninsula Indigenous Flora & Fauna Association Inc.

  5. I read with interest this very partisan interpretation of Coastal Policy posted by Philip Jensen.
    "SPIFFA, neatly in line with official state and federal coastal and climate change policy, laws and regulations, simply opposes any development whatsoever, on any foreshore, anywhere"

    What happened to "assessing proposals on their merits"?

    I beleive we are all guilty of taking a partisan approach to projects or issues that we are passionate about. Unfortunately there is too much coersion and too little tolerance and understanding in trying to negotiate satisfactory outcomes. It all comes down to how we interpret the rules!

    Megan Goldsworthy

  6. Comments by: The Mornington Peninsula Ratepayers and Residents' Association Inc.


    We are not opposed to a new swimming and leisure centre for Rosebud but we are opposed to its location on the Foreshore
    While the debate still continues whether climate change is caused by carbon emission or by naturally changing climate conditions there is general agreement by scientists and experts that the climate is changing and sea level will rise.

    The results of a preliminary study by the Victorian Government and CSIRO on climate change show that the Rosebud Foreshore is likely to be one of the most vulnerable on the Peninsula, if not the most vulnerable on Port Phillip Bay.

    Why then would you locate a new leisure centre the size of a supermarket with a large car park on the Foreshore?

    Thanks to you we have been able to send a petition to the Mayor with over 200 signatures suggesting that there are better locations for the monstrous building.

    Our suggestion is that a better location would be in front of the Shire offices in Boneo Road. It would be closer to three local schools, existing sporting facilities and the police station and we would not have to compete with ‘out-of-town’ non-ratepaying beachgoers for car parking.

    Council advised that the petition will be presented to a full meeting of the Council following which they will respond to our letter.


    Council budget reports show that $730,000 loss of the Pelican Park pool at Hastings is dramatically increasing every year.

    The reports show the loss of the leisure centre which includes the pool and Pelican Pantry Restaurant has increased by an average of 20% every year for the last 5 years to where the total loss of the complex is now over $1million per year.

    The loss does not include an allowance for depreciation and the interest on loan borrowing and is therefore even further understated based on the Victorian Governments best practice guidelines for managing local government assets.

    When the centre was proposed the Council’s consultants indicated that the centre would break even after the first year!

    The losses seriously call into questi
    on the Shire’s commercial management capability.

    Approximately 20 local Councils, including the neighbouring Casey Council, now engage the private sector to manage their aquatic/leisure centres.

    Perhaps the Council staff should devote some their energy to engaging the private sector to efficiently manage the Hastings Centre rather than wasting time promoting the Rosebud Foreshore as the site for the new pool. This might avoid the ratepayers having to fund a combined loss of the two centres of about $3 million per year.

  7. The whole process concerning the location of a pool at Rosebud appears to have been tainted for some time. When support for a location becomes politicians and party faithful staging a rally, where they make up a large part of the protesting crowd, you've got to wonder. Whatever it is, it certainly isn't community support. The whole issue seems to have become one of making a "grand statement", in terms of siting the pool (now leisure centre I believe?) in the most prominent location, a typical politicians approach. If their prefered location is successful will we will see it touted as a major achievement in all 3's next election campaigns?

  8. I asked my contact in the USA for some additional information on their pool (see my previous post):

    Hey Paul, I am wondering if the pool facility supports itself on a cash flow basis? What about if depreciation etc. costs are allocated? If you would be willing to share any financial information it would be helpful. We have a pool that is hemorrhaging a million a year and now want to “invest” another 20 million to build another. Also the estimated population that it draws its support from?

    Joe Lenzo

    His Reply:

    Morning Joe. Historically our pool never has operated in the black. The previous pool was subsidized around $70,000 per year. The new indoor/outdoor pools and ice arena are handled as one project, so it’s difficult to separate out the pools from the ice arena which is a pretty heavy utility user.

    The facility is used quite a bit. The summers are very busy especially if it’s hot (this year was very cool). The ice arena has several youth teams and one or two adult teams and of course Dordt University uses it too.

    Now for the good part, it only takes a subsidy of about $650,000 per year to make this place work. This is shared by Dordt and the City. The school agreed to pay for a portion of the cost of the facility, but no ongoing operations.

    The facility draws from Sioux County (34,000 pop.) for the pools and a larger area for the ice arena (maybe 3-4 counties away). The University of South Dakota has a team that comes here; we get skaters from Sioux City and Sioux Falls here too

    Paul Clousing, City Manager(CEO)
    Sioux Center, Iowa

  9. The Rosebud Chamber of Commerce and the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council are proposing to site a new aquatic complex on crown land on the Rosebud Foreshore

    This is not only a concern for the Mornington Peninsula but for the wider Victoria community as it could set a precedent for all sorts of community facilities to be sited on the Port Phillip Bay foreshore reserves and other Victorian townships' coastal reserves.

    Dr Alan Nelsen



    The Rosebud Chamber of Commerce and the Mornington Peninsula Shire are proposing that a new aquatic complex comprising of indoor pools, gymnasium, cafes, meeting rooms and community facilities be sited on crown land on the Rosebud Foreshore.

    We are not opposed to a new aquatic complex but believe that it should be located on one of the inland sites chosen from a total of 10 sites identified by the Shire.


    The complex is described by the Shire as “The largest building project undertaken by the Mornington Peninsulas Shire” and will be the size of a large multi-storey supermarket with parking for up to 150 cars.

    The low lying Rosebud Foreshore is only 1 to 2 metres above sea level and not only is the foreshore threatened by rising sea levels, king tides, storm and tide surges, erosion and coastal processes as a result of climate change but this massive development would further impact on a depleted foreshore.


    If approved then this development could set a precedent for other developments, such as community and leisure centres, basketball and indoor sporting stadiums, etc. to be located on other Port Phillip Bay foreshores and Victorian coastal township reserves.


    All that we ask is that you respond to this email so we can add your name to our list of supporters opposing this massive development on our precious foreshore.

    I/we are opposed to an aquatic complex being sited on the Rosebud Foreshore.

    Contact Name:
    Your email address or contact details:

    Email to:

    Eunice Cain, President MPRRA Dr Alan Nelsen, Secretary MPRRA