THE Kiama Leisure Centre will remain closed indefinitely after the pool’s asbestos roof was severely damaged in the storm that hit Kiama in the early hours of Sunday.
The council’s director of engineering and works Bryan Whittaker said ironically, the council was about to spend more than a million dollars replacing the leisure centre’s roof due to the asbestos, but removal of the material was now the priority.
After inspecting the Leisure Centre Mr Whittaker decribed the centre as a ‘‘disaster’’ and detailed broken glass on the pool deck, in the toddler’s pool and 25m pool.
He also said there was a ‘‘car-sized hole’ above the centre’s gymnasium.
‘‘It is council’s biggest single most damaged asset,’’ he said. ‘‘Glass has blown from the window right at the top on the Blue Haven side, right along the length of the pool to the wall where the toilets are on the other side.
‘‘We have holes in the roof because we have sheets of tin and sheets of asbestos ripped off. There’s on hole into the gymnasium area I’d say you could drop a car into it - so there’s water damage in that area and there is water damage in the hall.
‘‘We have a (state government) subsidy for the work on the leisure centre roof and we were just about to go to tender - so now is the time to do it. To repair it now is dangerous with the asbestos and that’s something we really have not had a chance to think about - but we are going to be a long, long time getting back into action at the leisure centre for sure.’’
Meanwhile, a new team of qualified asbestos removalists is expected to attend the leisure centre tomorrow (Wednesday).
Mr Whittaker said it would fence off the western side of the car park and clean it, then erect more fencing around the leisure centre to isolate it from the general public.
With the asbestos blown toward the north western side of the playing fields and the skate park, both areas will be cleaned with the intention of reopening the facilities for sporting activities by the weekend.
While obviously concerned about the scale of the damage, Mr Whittaker reflected on what could have been if the storm had occurred in daylight during the leisure centre’s peak weekend hours.
Despite serious damage to the council-run Blue Haven Retirement Village residential living units, Mr Whittaker said that that council asset along with the council’s other assets the holiday cabins and parks had been largely spared - potentially preventing much more serious injuries.
‘‘The nursing home was not too bad really, because they have a back-up emergency supply of power there and they have gas for looking and they did ring families to see if people could come and get residents to take them even just for the day.’’
Mr Whittaker said while it had been unnecessary, the council had been ready to evacuate Blue Haven residents and residents people displaced due to the storm, in the holiday parks.
‘‘Our crews helped the police out with road closures and diversions and helping mainly with the clean-up of trees to get our roads back open again - which they did pretty well - they got Terralong Street opened pretty quickly and they are still working on Havilah which they described as just a wall of trees,’’ he said.