Black Hill Primary School pupil pens letter to City of Ballarat

Plea: Lucy Walters, 10, with her letter to Ballarat City Council, requesting that the Black Hill pool remains open. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Plea: Lucy Walters, 10, with her letter to Ballarat City Council, requesting that the Black Hill pool remains open. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

A 10-YEAR-OLD Black Hill Primary School pupil has written a heartfelt letter to the City of Ballarat requesting it reconsider its controversial decision to shut down the community’s pool.

Lucy Walters told The Courier she felt compelled to write the letter to Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris after hearing the “horrible” news that the pool would close.

All City of Ballarat councillors, with the exception of Cr Peter Innes and Cr Belinda Coates, voted to close the pool at a council meeting on August 27. 

Lucy dubbed the pool the “best part” of her childhood and said it continued to be important to the community.

“It’s where I learnt to swim,” she said. “It’s a place where all my friends go and all their families go and everybody comes together. There is no other place like it.”

The letter stated that the pool had been a “favourite for generations” and pleaded for the council to give the community a chance to fund-raise to keep it opened.

“The community built the pool in the first place so the pool belongs to us and we should have more of a say,” it said. 

“Even if you demolish it, that will cost a lot more than keeping our pool open and everyone will be happier if it stays open in the summer time.” 

The letter also urged the mayor and councillors to reflect on their own childhoods. 

“I know this is one of the hundred of letters you get but please, just read this letter,” Lucy wrote.

 “Close your eyes for a second and imagine you are 10-years-old. Think back to when you were a child, what was your favourite person or thing? Imagine that this was gone, just like that and you never saw it or them again.”

At the end of the letter, there is a collage of photos depicting Lucy’s childhood at the pool. 

Lucy said children at the school had been extremely distressed by the news of pool’s imminent closure.

She has started a petition which already has 300 signatures from children at the school opposing the decision.

There is also another community petition circling the area that was started by Black Hill traders and has gained almost 400 signatures. 

Lucy’s mother also submitted a letter to all councillors in support of her daughter’s plight.

Ms Walters said she believed the pool was still viable as it provided social inclusion, health benefits and independence for children in a safe environment. 

Ms Walters said the school community had been kept in the dark about the fate of the pool, with no proper community consultation held on the matter.

The council said it would save $500,000 over the next five years if the pool was closed.

It maintained the pool required “significant level of capital expense” to be operational during the 2014-15 season, including a $90,000 upgrade of the facility’s septic system and water mains and $53,000 for the replacement of the filter system, irrigation and fencing works. 

Lucy and Ms Walters met with councillors Des Hudson and Vicki Coltman on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matter.

Cr Morris said he was unable to attend the meeting, but he had received the letter and planned to meet with the family.

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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