THE popularity of the Bathurst Aqua Park over summer will likely determine whether or not Chifley Dam will be afforded more car parking facilities.
The long-awaited inflatable water park had its grand opening over the weekend, seeing around 250 people attend on each day.
At the same time, the Western Region Regatta was being hosted by the Bathurst Pan Dragons and other dam users, including water skiers, were also out on the water.
Deputy mayor Bobby Bourke said Bathurst Regional Council “will be looking to improve amenities” at the dam in the future, but for now it was monitoring the parking situation.
“We’ve got to see what the numbers for the aqua park are like,” he said.
Councillor Alex Christian agreed that parking had to be addressed at some stage and said that summer would be the true test of the popularity of the aqua park and how desperately more parking was needed.
When asked whether more parking should have been added before approving the aqua park, he said the options available appeared to be enough at the time.
“We did think there were opportunities for people to get decent car parks there, but people will have to walk a couple of hundred metres,” he said, adding that council would need to keep monitoring usage.
With summer expected to be busy, Cr Christian has started to explore other options to ease congestion.
“I’ve discussed privately with different people about a specialised bus service that picks people up from a point in the CBD and takes them to the dam, running on the hour,” he said.
“These are the types of things we’ll have to look at, and when I say ‘we’ I mean council, and a bit of responsibility will have to fall back on the business owners.”
Although happy for council to monitor parking, Cr Warren Aubin said he wasn’t certain more would be needed at this point.
“I was out there on the weekend and the dam had both the state dragon boat regatta on and the opening of the aqua park on at the same time, and I didn’t find parking quite that bad,” he said.
“It is probably something that we need to look at and just keep an eye on and probably take a look at what happens out there when summer hits.”
Currently, Bathurst Aqua Park opens four days a week, running from Thursday through to Sunday.
The owners plan to increase operations to seven days over the school holiday periods that fall between now and the end of March, when the park’s 2018-19 seasons concludes.