RESIDENTS are welcoming the re-opening of the impressive Wentworthville Memorial Swimming Centre, none more than 92-year-old Trevor Simpson, who was unable to swim since the pool closed in 2017.
However, Mr Simpson and other residents have time to use it until Anzac Day before it closes during the colder months, when numbers drop. It is to re-open during October’s long weekend.
Mayor Steve Cristou officially opened the pool on Monday, March 29 in the presence of several councilors and the Federal MP for Prospect, Hugh McDermott, who had fought to save the pool.
The council spent $12.2M to upgrade the centre with a new pool, fully roofed changing rooms, children’s area, a picnic spot and several shades being added. There is a lift to allow people with disability use the 50m pool.
The mayor said the centre has been his priority since his election and he invited residents to use the centre, while their proposed swimming pool is being built.
“Our residents deserve facilities that are modern,” said Mayor Cristou, pointing out the council is looking to modernise pools across the LGA.
Mr Simpson, a seventh dan jujitsu coach and a vice-president at Wenty Leagues, said he missed going to the pool because Parramatta’s one was also closed.
“I have been living in Wentworthville since 1956 and have used the pool when it first opened in 1965,” said Mr Simpson, who was awarded an OAM for his services to the community.
“I really missed swimming and cannot wait to get back.”
Mr Simpson and his wife of 47 years, Marie, were a part of the long community campaign to prevent the pool from being shut down by the previous council.
MPs supported the petition
For Wentworthville schoolteacher Grant Hanson, the re-opening of the centre is the culmination of nearly a decade of campaigning for its survival, even spending nights distributing leaflets and posters to thousands of letter boxes in the community. He also left leaflets on the windscreens of vehicles.
“It was very frustrating but Granville MP Julia Finn took our petition to the State Parliament by after more than 10,000 signed it,” said Mr Hanson, who said he spent his own money on his relentless campaign.
“I am happy to see it re-open because there were many plans from the council, including closing all the pools and opening one in Greystanes or upgrading the one at Merrylands to cater to all the residents.”
Mr McDermott and councillor Lisa Lake said they had campaigned to save the pool.
“We initially lost the fight before winning it because the previous council wanted to close it,” Mr McDermott said.
“It was run down and the upgrade will bring in young families and teach the residents how to swim to prevent the large number of drownings in western Sydney.”
The campaign was also supported by Federal Parramatta MP Julie Owens and former Premier and Toongabbie MP Nathan Rees.
“The re-opening is great news for us because the council had a lot of representations by the residents to save it,” Cr Lake said. “The new change facilities, with roofs, are very welcome as this was one of the main things residents wanted.”
Wentworthville resident Robin Maine, who joined the centre when her son began swimming, praised the addition of the splash area and BBQ, saying it gives families more things to do.
There are also private cubicles for females, which councilor Suman Saha said will be beneficial to many Indian sub-continent women.
Belgravia Leisure will handle management of the centre. Centre details:https://wentworthvilleswimcentre.com.au/
BY LAWRENCE MACHADO
Photo: Trevor Simpson and his wife of 47 years, Marie.