A heavy machinery operator made a symbolic start to the demolition of the now-dry 50m Batemans Bay pool on Friday, September 25, at the official launch of construction of the aquatic and arts centre.
Shortly before the driver began chipping away at the edge of the pool, Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes farwelled "the old girl", but looked forward to its replacement.
"I have done many laps in this pool and spent many glorious summer days here, but whilst it is a little sad to say goodbye to the old girl, I just can't wait for this excavator to start," Cr Innes told those gathered, including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Bega MP Andrew Constance.
"What we are going to be replacing it with is going be an incredible legacy for our community to enjoy for many years."
The mayor thanked members of the sunset committee and her fellow councillors and the federal and state governments who had "brought $51 million into our community" for the project.
"For the first time we will have a beautiful centre that will be enjoyed and used around the year," Cr Innes said.
Bega MP Andrew Constance thanked Jackie and Carolyn Harding for their years of effort to secure an indoor heated pool.
"Jackie has been fighting for today for 20 years," Mr Constance said.
"They have done an amazing job. There have been moments when we have thought 'how are we going to get the money for this?'."
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Mr Constance said such projects would help regional economies recover.
"We need jobs and they have to be publicly funded infrastructure jobs right now to get through this God-awful situation we are in," he said.
Mr McCormack congratulated "all the proponents" and agreed infrastructure projects were essential.
"It is all about construction through COVID," he said.
He said the project would rely on "local procurement", and not just of materials.
"It's about the cafe down the road, the motel which will accommodate people," he said.
Labor's Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips said she and her children had attended carnivals at the pool and the new project would benefit another generation. Ms Phillips carried posters and messages from children endorsing an indoor pool.
"I want an indoor pool so I can learn more swimming," one said.
"It's about our children," Ms Phillips said.
"It is about people in wheelchairs who will finally have their chance."
The new facility will improve a learn-to-swim pool and a hydrotherapy pool.
Speaking on behalf of successful tendered, ADCO, the firm's NSW state manager John Basilisco recalled heading down the Clyde Mountain in the back of his father's HR Holden for holidays in Batemans Bay and hoped another generation would appreciate the new centre.