(Photo: A learn-to-swim class at Thames Centennial Pool) With Thames Centennial Pool needing to be replaced by 2027, we're moving forward with finding a site for the new swimming pool to replace Thames Centennial Pool, with a location at the south end of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield in Thames chosen for further investigation. Geotechnical and flood assessments, including on the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise, have been undertaken for this site and we've provided these reports to Waikato Regional Council as part of our ongoing consultation with them over the site. No major flaws to the site have been identified as part of these assessments. Answers to frequently asked questions about flooding risks at the preferred site are available to download from the right side of this page. In summary, the site is protected by stopbanks from coastal inundation, as are the nearby airfield, housing subdivision and Council wastewater treatment facility. The next steps in the project will be focused on community consultation about what kind of facility people want. Why a new pool for Thames? Thames Centennial Pool is reaching the end of its usable life and is due for replacement by 2027. This aligns with the long-held desire by Ngati Maru for Council to vacate the existing pool's site given it covers a urupa/burial ground. A new site would mean that more people would be comfortable using the pool given some people prefer not to use the current facility given its location on a urupa/burial ground. What are the options? Options include a like-for-like replacement (but in a permanent building) or a larger facility with more services that could function as a sub-regional aquatic centre. A feasibility study into this larger option was conducted and is available to download on the right side of this page. We'll be looking to secure as much non-Council funding as possible for the eventual building costs to lessen the impact on ratepayers. The feedback from the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation and from our pre-consultation in November 2020 on the 2021-2031 LTP, was that the replacement Thames pool should be locally funded. This has been listened to. I don't live in Thames, what about a pool closer to me? It was clear from submissions we received in March and April 2018 on the 2018-2028 LTP that people in other parts of the district (outside Thames ward) would like improved swimming facilities. Community-run pools in Coromandel Town, Whitianga and Whangamata receive Council financial support and technical advice to improve the physical facilities and to improve the level of service these pools provide the public. Next steps Council staff are actively seeking external funding, in order to reduce the cost of this project to Thames Ward ratepayers. The preferred site for the replacement pool remains the area of Council-owned land at the south end of the Sir Keith Park Thames Memorial Airfield. Over time, it's envisaged that the sports facilities currently at Rhodes Park can be moved to this location - as funding through future LTPs permits - in order to create a multisport hub. Planning work on the 2021-2031 LTP continues and the proposed LTP budgets and project priorities will go out for public consultation on 5 March to 6 April. Our proposed LTP does not include budget for the replacement pool. It is on a 'nice to have' list of projects that, when financial constraints change, we hope to move it back into our budgets and consult on this again through a future Annual Plan or via the 2024-2034 LTP.