WORK on Montrose’s new £9 million swimming pool is set to begin following the cutting of the first turf at the Marine Avenue site.
In a ceremony held on Thursday, the ground was broken by Angus Provost Ruth Leslie Melville, Sportscotland chairwoman Louise Martin and Phil McEwan, managing director of Stirling-based contractor Ogilvie Construction Ltd.
The project will provide an integrated sports and swimming facility with the existing sports centre, next to Montrose Academy, and will feature a main six-lane pool, a viewing gallery and a studio pool with a moving floor. Both pools will accommodate swimming tuition at all levels, competitive swimming and training, water polo and play activities.
The new complex will also feature a health suite with sauna, steam room and a relaxation area, a fitness suite and multi-purpose rooms for meetings and training.
The project was welcomed by the Provost who said the new pool and sports centre would be of benefit to the entire county as well as the town.
She said: “I am delighted to mark the beginning of work on this tremendous new facility which, when completed in August 2012, will benefit the whole of Angus and especially the people of Montrose.
“It will be constructed to a very high standard and will attract visitors into Angus. The pool will encourage people of all ages to keep fit and healthy through swimming and other sports and I am confident that enthusiasts with a diverse range of abilities will enjoy this new pool.”
The project has also been endorsed by Sportscotland, which will contribute £1 million to its overall cost.
Ms Martin said the organisation has been closely involved with Angus Council from the project’s inception and she hopes it will generate “fantastic excitement” within local clubs and the wider community.
She said: “Sportscotland has been involved in this project since its inception, so it is great to see work getting under way on-site. We have worked closely with our partners in Angus Council to design a swimming pool that meets the need of the local community, along with making an investment of £1 million from our Sports Facilities Fund.
“The pool signifies a major development for the people of Montrose, and it will offer those in the community new opportunities to take part in sport.”
Public health and sport minister Shona Robison has praised the project as a “superb addition” to the town’s facilities.
She said: “I am delighted to see work under way on this exciting project which will be a superb addition to the leisure facilities in Montrose. Having access to new pool will be a real benefit to the local community - it has been designed with local needs in mind.
“Swimming in Scotland has been a huge success in recent years and we want this to continue. All Scots can be inspired by the 2014 Commonwealth Games to get active and have fun. That way we can increase participation in sport and deliver a lasting legacy for Scotland.”
Mr McEwan emphasised his company’s strong association with the leisure sector and said the finished building will be a “fantastic new community facility” which has been “eagerly awaited”.
He said: “Ogilvie Construction has a strong background in the leisure sector, and we were delighted to win the contract to build the new pool and the associated fitness facilities.
“Creating this enlarged sports facility will provide a huge boost for local families and – hopefully - encourage everyone to get out and be more active.
“I understand a webcam is being installed so people can keep an eye on the site as work progresses. I hope they’ll be pleased with what they see – and local residents will be delighted with the finished product, due to be launched in the autumn of 2012.”
Local councillor and council corporate services convener Mark Salmond said the beginning of construction was a “momentous day” for Montrose and that he was proud to have been able to put together the funding package for the project to go ahead.
He commented: “This is the culmination of four years’ hard work for me. It is well documented that a small minority of people were opposed to this project, as well as some who doubted that the funding would ever be found.
“I always had confidence that this was the correct design and location for this project and that the funding package would be put together to deliver this 21st Century facility for Montrose.
“It must be of some embarrassment to the Angus SNP councillors who opposed this project up to the 11th hour that their own Scottish Government minister for public health and sport, Shona Robison has endorsed this project. I am delighted by her supportive comments and that the Scottish Government are fully supportive of the Angus Alliance’s decision to build this new swimming pool in Montrose.”