When I took over as CEO, I inherited a ‘distressed project’ the Crookwell pool complex. I have continued to work with the highly ambitious original vision and design/ scope for this project. This has always been, and remains, to have three pools – an indoor, outdoor and toddler pool – a playground and Visitor Information Centre. Council believe such a facility will positively contribute to wellbeing, sports, and tourism in the Shire.

A report was tabled by the previous General Manager at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 16 July 2020 where Councillors voted unanimously to build a new swim complex and to allocate funding towards this project.

Resolved by Cr Wheelwright and Cr Searl

1.   Resolves to support option two (2) – build a new pool complex at Crookwell

2.   Allocate $1.203.048 grant from federal government for community resilience and recovery towards option two (2) – build a new pool complex at Crookwell.

3.   Reallocate the $40k previously allocated to designing a heated pool towards option two (2) – build a new pool complex at Crookwell.

4.   Seek funding from the state and federal government to realise this project.


Councillors who voted for:-                      Crs P Culhane, R Cummins, P Kensit, R Opie, D O’Brien, B McCormack, J Searl, J Stafford and J Wheelwright

Councillors who voted against:-                 Nil

Despite major challenges, Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the project are on track for completion in the third quarter of this year. These stages will include the outdoor 25m pool, the toddler pool, the plant and pump room area and the Visitor Information Centre to lock up stage.

Due to the challenges this project has faced, additional funds are required to bring full plans and project to fruition, and Council will continue our efforts to secure support to complete the remaining stages.

This includes further applications for grant funding wherever possible. At present three applications have been submitted in the hope that Council are successful in gaining enough money to finish the project as designed.

The largest of the grant applications submitted and pending decision is the Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program application.

Council has applied for the full amount of $7.1 Million from Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program, this is the amount required to finish the fit-out of the VIC, build the indoor pool, amenities, track and landscape the site. This includes over $1 million of contingency, which would only be used if required; it is held separately to the funding awarded. 

This takes the estimated cost of the project to $16.6 million which is significantly more than the original estimate however the project has seen many challenges all of which I have inherited since I took over the role as Acting General Manager/CEO in Council in March 2023.

As most people would be aware, development and construction of this facility has been difficult and faced many setbacks. These include COVID, inclement weather, labour shortages, material shortages, cost escalations, poor contactor performance, liquidation of the construction company, rectification work required for certification and funding shortages to name a few.

In March 2023 (two weeks after taking on the role), the original contractor who was engaged to deliver this project, went into administration then in May 2023 into liquidation, and the project was considered a distressed project.

A key step in terms of moving forward was to find a new contractor with the capability and willingness to take on the risk of an unfinished project.

I secured a new construction company and re-activated the site within 4 months of Lloyd group going into liquidation. FDC, who completed the neighbouring Goulburn pool were engaged to complete stages 1 and 2 of the project.

In relation to the governance of this project, I commissioned an independent Quantity Surveyors report by Wilde and Woollard to determine the project’s completion cost, and the costs to rectify the distressed project. This highlighted that the grants secured were not enough to complete the full scope of the original project.

To ensure the governance assurance of this project, Regional NSW with Public Works conducted a full audit (health check) on the project, past management and governance. Further work has been undertaken and extra governance/ steering committee with the funding bodies set up. They have confidence in Council and my ongoing governance and management of the project and funding.

Having worked with the funding currently available, I was able to work with the project team to separate out different stages, all with the aim of delivering a pool for the community as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the funding available will not stretch to permanent amenities so a plan to place temporary amenities at the pool for next swim season is in place.

Since I took over this project I have been highly invested in it. When the original construction company collapsed on a Friday, I spent the weekend at the construction site stopping subcontractors from removing Council property and materials.

I worked with Councils infrastructure team to secure as many items as possible and store them off site to ensure the project would not lose vital materials causing further delays and costs. I have taken over the management and governance of the project, worked with the project team and grants officer on funding applications and variations and in order to deliver this project in full.

As a community it is important to understand that Federal and State Government funding bodies don’t simply hand out the full amount money requested and awarded by a grant.

Council must as per each grant funding agreement, submit milestone reports in order to incrementally receive funding. A final report and acquittal is also required prior to the last instalment. This means that Council does not have all of this money sitting in an account, it is in fact mostly sitting in Government coffers awaiting milestone reports as each portion of the projects per the agreement is delivered.

Council provides financial statements, quarterly council reports, an annual report and is audited by the Auditor Generals office.

Of the funding, Council has been awarded over $1.8 million dollars of the initial grant funding has been quarantined as unavailable for use by the funding bodies as it is tied to certain elements of the project that are unachievable at this time. This funding needs to be removed from the available money for councils use.

Therefore the total amount of funding available to Council for the entirety of the project is $10.2 million this falls short of the $16.6 Million required to finish the project hence Council has applied for further funding to complete the project from any and all grant funding opportunities. These grants are, Changing facilities Commonwealth funding $200,000 Expression of interest only, RPPP $7,155,900 submitted and pending decision, Office of Responsible Gambling Infrastructure Grant $243,242.

When added up, the total of all grants including those which are submitted but may not be successful, amount to around $20 million however as described above in detail, this is not reality as at least three of these grants which add up to $7,599,142 have only been submitted and may not be successful.

It should be noted that council would only accept the amount of funding required to finish the project but grant funding is a bit like lotto and you never know if you will be successful so it’s important to apply for an many grants as you can.

Works to date include but are not limited to; all ground work, stormwater, hydraulics, slabs to buildings poured (VIC, amenities, program/indoor pool, plant room), structural steel installed to the VIC and pool plant room, Roofing and insulation to VIC and plant room, refurbishment of old pool, toddlers pool and program pool poured, all underground pipework to the pools installed, rectification works to structures undertaken, all filters and heaters plus associated pool infrastructure installed in plant room, first aid room constructed, footings and groundwork to tiered seating, VIC externally clad, entrance paved, glazing and louvres pending installation.

The Mayor and I have lobbied hard to get this piece of important community infrastructure completed and recognised by the State Government. We are finding it impossible to compete with city council who seem to have been successful in gaining a bail out of significant funding to refurbish their old pool.

Mayor Kensit said

“The difficulties we have is a low population, hence low voting area when we compare ourselves to city councils. I refer to the to the refurbishment of the North Sydney pool which had a budget of $86 million. This project blew out and in Feb 2024, a further $20 million was committed by the State Government to rescue this project, bringing the total cost of this refurbishment of over $100 million.

The CEO and I have worked hard to lobby the State and Federal Governments for a rescue package of funding for this community, all of which has been ignored.

I feel that instead of complaining about councils management of the project and negative claims regarding costs and funding, we should all be asking the State Government is why it continues to ignore the NSW regional Councils and their communities.”