Dubbo Regional councillors are divided over the proposed removal of a Claret Ash tree in the Wellington Pool complex.
Council is in the process of redeveloping the Wellington Pool after a structural integrity assessment found the pool was within two years of its life expectancy.
However, during work at the pool, it was found the roots of the Claret Ash had penetrated the old change rooms and amenities.
Council manager recreation and open space Ian McAlister said when the amenities were updated, it could damage the integrity of the tree and create a hazard for the children using the kids pool which is planned for the area.
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If the tree remains, he said it could push back the opening of Wellington Pool – currently planned for October 2019 – for another year. Keeping the tree would mean an alteration of the design, which would need to go back before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The item was debated at the December council meeting.
Mayor Ben Shields and councillor David Grant both spoke in support of the tree’s removal to ensure the project wouldn’t be delayed, while councillors Anne Jones, John Ryan and Stephen Lawrence wanted it to stay.
Cr Jones said there was insufficient evidence for the removal of the tree.
“It may cost us more money but to basically be told, or the inference is, that if we don’t cut the tree down that the final date for the opening of the new pool may be delayed for another 12 months, that’s holding us ransom,” Cr Jones said.
Cr Grant said he didn’t want to see the project delayed.
“To be honest I’m no tree lover, I’m one of those people who if it’s in the way, get rid of it and replace it but saying that we’ve been standing here for the past 15 or 18 months telling he community we’re going to keep this tree so it’s very frustrating for my side of things,” he said.
The mayor said he couldn’t support the pool being closed for another summer period, especially when he had already had so many people contact him about the closure. Concerns had also been raised about kids playing in the river, Cr Shields said.
Cr Shields said he didn’t think the people of Wellington would want the pool closed over another summer.
If the tree is removed it would be replaced with an advanced tree in the same location. A root vault would be built to prevent the roots from damaging the new pools or pavilion.
A decision on the tree’s removal has been deferred until February when more information can be gathered, including a timeline.
Deferring the decision will not delay the work at the pool from being completed.