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SAVE Footscray Pool activists failed in a last-ditch attempt to persuade the Salvation Army to chose another site for its proposed aged care hostel.
City of Maribyrnong mayor Janet Rice and CEO Kerry Thompson met Salvation Army representatives on 15 March to discuss whether another site in the municipality would meet the charity’s requirements for a hostel.
Cr Rice made public the report from the meeting last Tuesday.
She said she asked whether the Salvation Army would consider building its hostel on the Raleigh St car park in Footscray.
“They said it was not big enough for their needs,” she said.
“And we do not have a potentially larger site in Footscray.”
She said an alternative site could possibly be found outside Footscray for the Salvation Army but it was “highly unlikely that they would consider it” given that the Salvos wanted a site in Footscray.
Cr Rice said the council would not pursue legal action as it would be unlikely to succeed and would cost a great deal of money.
She said it would also not do the council’s reputation any good as the Salvation Army had entered into a contract in good faith when they bought the Buckley St site.
Cr Rice said she was aware that a third option remained in the struggle to keep the Footscray Swim Centre in council hands.
She said the council could refuse to approve the Salvation Army’s planning permit when it came before them but this was also not a likely path to follow.
“That’s it,” Cr Rice said. “I find it a very emotional thing to say goodbye after nine years of trying to save Footscray pool.”
Cr Rice said she still believed a pool was need in Footscray.
“I know it would cost the council more to run two pools but it also costs more to run two libraries … two of any facility.”
Salvation Army communications director Major Brad Halse said the meeting with the council was positive.
“From our perspective we will continue to plan,” he said.
Councillor Michelle MacDonald supported the sale of the Footscray Swim Centre when she was mayor last year.
“No one every wanted to sell that pool but there was a financial imperative,” she said.
Cr MacDonald said she now hoped councillors would lead the community in supporting the Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre.
Maribyrnong City Council sold the Footscray Swim Centre in June for $2.5 million for the Salvation Army to build a 90-bed aged care hostel.

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