Kids left ‘high and dry’ at future Doveton Pool

DETA chair Stefan Koomen with daughters Frankie and Georgie at Doveton Pool in the Park last summer.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A residents group says young families may be left ‘high and dry’ if toddler pools and water slides are removed from a redeveloped Doveton Pool in the Park.

Doveton Eumemmerring Township Association chair Stefan Koomen said “many local families believe that at least one slide and shallow pool need to be kept for younger children”.

“If you don’t have anything fun for little ones, families are less likely to use the pool.

“This will impact the long-term viability of the pool’s operations.”

Recently, Casey Council committed to $7.91 million of stage 1 funding to retain the 50-metre pool and splash pad facilities only.

It is awaiting state and federal funding to help fund further stages including a possible beach sand pit, plaza, canopy tree planting, upgraded splash pad, playground, outdoor fitness equipment, barbecue, toilets and upgraded pool building.

Mr Koomen welcomed the funding to save the historic pool but raised his concerns at a recent meeting with the council.

“We’ve asked the council to reconsider the removal of all slides and smaller pools and are eager to work with them to ensure the design and investment align with community needs.

“It’s vital to have a shallow area for little swimmers to get confident with water in a safe controlled environment, suited to their size and ability.”

He said it would also be “such a shame” to remove the slides which were “notstalgic” for residents who “grew up spending their childhood summers at Doveton Pool”.

After a fierce community campaign in 2021, Casey Council reversed its plans to replace all of the pools with parkland.

Casey’s city and asset planning manager Keri New said community feedback in 2021 showed a “strong sentiment to retain the pool whilst supporting year-round elements such as a park and water play”.

“Doveton Pool in the Park annual visits identify that school carnival users make up approximately 75 per cent of the annual visitation, with the remaining visitation being community visits.”

Ms New said several “activations and programs” would be offered to ensure the 50 metre pool would be used by people of all ages and abilities, including young children and families.

She said the community, including DETA, had been engaged during a public exhibition of the site’s masterplan in mid-2022.

“In light of council’s recent endorsement to stage the delivery of the master plan and fund stage 1, council will be informing the community of this decision and will continue to advocate to State and Federal Governments, seeking funding commitment to deliver future stages.”

For the past two summers, the outdoor pools has opened on days 25 degrees Celsius and hotter – a reduction from the previous 30-degree temperature trigger.

However, attendances were down. In 43 days of operation in 23-’24, there were 5836 visitations – thought to be due to the lack of extreme heat days.

The Doveton Pool was developed in 1968 after a long campaign of community fundraising in response to drownings in Eumemmerring Creek.