A LAST-ditch attempt to halt the demolition of the Ringwood Aquatic Centre has failed in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Maroondah Ratepayers Association president Tony Sargeant made an injunction application before Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth on Friday, expressing what he said were the widespread concerns of many Maroondah residents who opposed the pool's $46.5million redevelopment.
Several residents attended the hearing in support of his application.
Mr Sargeant told the court the ratepayers were concerned about how Maroondah Council was going to fund the large-scale project and questioned the validity of the council's ability to raise funds under the state's constitution. He also questioned the granting of royal assent.
The council's lawyer, Jeremy Whelen, told Justice Hollingworth the redevelopment was going to be paid for not only by ratepayers but also with the help of a $3million state government grant and from other borrowings.
The pool closed on Saturday and the site was due to be handed over to redevelopers today, he said. Demolition is scheduled to begin on July 17.
After acknowledging that many of Mr Sargeant's arguments had no legal basis, Justice Hollingworth dismissed the application, adding that she was satisfied that the council had the funds to complete the project.
She also criticised the timing of Mr Sargeant's application, saying he had waited until the day before the redevelopment process was to begin to take legal action to try and stop it.
She said delaying the project would cause financial harm to the council and the ratepayers, among others.
The judge explained to Mr Sargeant - who told the court he had suffered two strokes and a heart attack and was the carer for his extremely sick wife - that it was common for those who lost legal cases to have to pay the other party's legal fees. She then ordered him to pay the council's legal costs. Mr Sargeant explained he was a pensioner and did not have a lot of money, but added: "I'm not planning to dodge my responsibilities" and that he would sell his car if he had to.
Outside court, he expressed his disappointment at the outcome.
"I've done all I could for the ratepayers and taken our fight as far as I possibly could, so I just hope all the ratepayers know that I've done my best," he said.
Maroondah Council made no comment except to confirm it had successfully defended the injunction application.