SHIRE councillors have removed the Rosebud foreshore site as the preferred location for the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre (SPA).
The move at Tuesday night’s council meeting reverses a decision made in March 2012.
It was led by the shire’s youngest councillor, Andrew Dixon, who was elected to one of three seats in Briars Ward last October.
The decision puts the inland site at Wannaeue Place (Rosebud Central shopping centre) on an equal footing with the foreshore site.
Councillors will consider the two sites at a workshop on 23 July before again debating the long-running project at a subsequent council meeting.
Last year the council bought Rosebud Central for $5.1 million and two buildings in adjacent Ninth Avenue as a possible alternative site for SPA.
The shopping centre is occupied by 10 specialty shops and Ritchies IGA supermarket, whose lease expires in July.
Council officers have been preparing a comparison of the two sites.
In his notice of motion, Cr Dixon said abandoning the foreshore site would “break the deadlock that has plagued this project and the council for too long”.
He also called for a report on ways to raise extra revenue to allow SPA to be built, which could include “the inclusion of additional ground floor commercial space, second-floor leisure and community space, and multi-level residential space”.
“With the right approach to commercial and residential real estate, the centre may be able to cover losses generated by other community infrastructure, like Pelican Park [in Hastings] or our library network,” he said.
Cr Dixon’s call for this report was not supported by his colleagues and lapsed.
During the election campaign, Cr Dixon said he did not support SPA on the foreshore or at any other location but has since voted for it on two occasions. His move has surprised council watchers who thought he would continue supporting the foreshore site.
During debate, Cr Hugh Fraser said he supported Cr Dixon as circumstances had changed since the vote in 2012.
There had been a geotechnical report that had revealed a number of problems with the foreshore, he said.
Piles for SPA would have to be sunk 14 metres, adding 15 to 25 per cent to the centre’s total cost.
The report Port Phillip Coastal Adaptation Pathways Program released earlier this year, which studied the Murray-Anderson Basin (Rosebud and McCrae), had warned that 74 per cent of land could be flooded between now and 2100, he said.
Peninsula Link freeway had opened in January and Frankston Council’s $50 million aquatic centre was now just 30 minutes by road.
The budget estimates showed the shire’s Pelican Park aquatic centre in Hastings was losing $850,000 a year.
Information about SPA from 2005 was now out of date, Cr Fraser said.
Cr David Gibb, champion of the SPA foreshore site, said Cr Dixon’s motion was naïve but he understood his motive.
No decision should be made until after the workshop on 23 July, he said.
“I’m happy for SPA to be built on the foreshore or at Wannaeue Place,” he said.
Building at Wannaeue Place would be more expensive, he said.
He called the Port Phillip Coastal Adaptation Pathways Program report a “beat-up”. Flooding of Rosebud and McCrae would only occur if four things occurred at once, which was remote, he said.
Cr Tim Rodgers was almost apoplectic when he spoke. “The Port Phillip Coastal Adaptation report is not a beat-up,” he said.
He asked Cr Gibb if he was asleep at the report workshop, drawing a rebuke from meeting chairman Cr Lynn Bowden about making personal remarks.
“Sea level rise is one issue and the AECOM report [into building the pool on the foreshore] has raised other issues,” Cr Rodgers said.
He said SPA would cost an extra $7 million on the foreshore.
Broad-based community support for the foreshore site has yet to be proved, he said.
Cr Frank Martin said he had built two buildings at Port Melbourne and didn’t see the foreshore site as a problem. “You just drive the piles down until refusal,” he said.
“Venice was built on piles and it’s still standing,” he said.
Cr Anne Shaw said she believed in sea level rise but the design life of SPA was 50 years.
“The pool at Frankston doesn’t help our young people,” she said.
Cr Bev Colomb said the SPA saga had been characterised by a lack of information. “We still haven’t had conversations with experts,” she said.
There was a regional aquatic centre proposed for the Fleurieu Peninsula [in South Australia; being built by the City of Victor Harbour] and the council had said to residents “if you want a pool, this is what it will cost and these are the ongoing costs”.
Cr Colomb said this had not happened with SPA.
“Many seaside towns wouldn’t consider major infrastructure on the foreshore.”
Cr Dixon’s motion passed 5-4. Cr Graham Pittock was not in the chamber and Cr David Garnock is on leave.