Swimming pool comes under fire
The One Bermuda Alliance has criticised Government for poor planning of the new National Aquatic Centre because the pool will be too expensive to open in the winter months.
Anthony Francis, the OBA candidate for Devonshore North Central, also criticised the fact that the Olympic size 50-metre pool will be unable to host major events like the Carifta Games.
Mr Francis said: It has become obvious that Government did not have a business plan or feasibility study done before it built the $20 million National Aquatics Centre.
Responding to my questions concerning the monthly operating costs of the facility, the guest worker chief executive officer, Bernie Asbell, has revealed that the monthly Belco bill for the pool during the warmest months will be $98,000. He has further revealed that the pool will close in the winter months because it is too expensive to heat.
Mr Francis said the only way Bermudians will be able to swim in the pool during the winter months is if the facility was hosting international swim teams or organisations during those months to subsidise the cost of operating the pool.
It is completely unacceptable that Government has spent $20 million of taxpayer money on the Aquatics Centre $5 million over the original budgeted cost without carefully considering the pools monthly operating costs to make sure it remains open year-round, said Mr Francis, who is running against Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney.
Mr Francis said responsibility for the pool lies with Mr Blakeney, adding: Once again, we ask (Mr) Blakeney to reveal the total monthly operating costs of the facility, including staff costs, chemicals, and maintenance.
The Bermuda Amateur Swimming Assoication has revealed that the eight-lane pool is unsuitable for its main purposes.
Mr Francis said: They have said that it is too deep for a community pool; does not have warm-up or warm-down facilities, meaning it cannot host top events like the Carifta Games because they require either a ten-lane pool or warm-up/warm-down areas; is not suitable for the needs of competitive swimmers because divers will also use the pool, meaning competitive swimmers wont get the pool time they require for proper training; and, in terms of competitive swimming, is not a fast pool because the deep end is too deep.
The trustees of the National Sports Centre, who oversaw the construction of the pool, say that there are plans in phase two to built a six-lane, 25-metre warm up pool on the site.
Requests for comment from Government were not answered by press time.
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