THEY said it should always remain free of charge.
But now, with ever-escalating costs placing a growing burden on Naracoorte Lucindale Council, it's time to open the debate...should users pay to swim at Naracoorte swimming lake?
The original committee responsible for the creation of the lake intended the facility as a free gift to the community when they officially presented it to the Naracoorte Corporation on November 2, 1961. This was reiterated by original swimming lake committee chairman Colin Heard in a letter to the Herald, published on December 6.
"We were providing a simple pool that required little maintenance hence our request that the lake should always be free of any charge," Mr Heard wrote.The Herald's front page story on November 2, 1961 quoted then-mayor Ted Wortley who said at the opening by then-Governor Sir Edric Bastyan: "This fine pool will provide many pleasurable hours for people of all ages, free of charge."
But in recent times there has been talk of the council, which runs the lake, possibly charging swimmers a small amount to help cover costs.
Naracoorte Lucindale Council mayor Erika Vickery said the issue had been spoken about very informally, but she stressed the council didn't yet have a firm view on how the lake - which now costs more than $200,000 to operate each summer - might be managed in the future.
"We've certainly spoken about it, but we haven't done a lot of work on it," she told the Herald.
In his same letter to the Herald, Mr Heard said times had changed and the lake was now a far greater financial burden for the council."As chairman of this project (the lake) I have no hesitation in suggesting that my wonderful group of workers, and I specifically include Tom Guster and Laurie Gericke, would agree with me that the council should be free to decide this matter," he wrote.
The lake has been greatly modified over the years from the earth-based pool with no more than a water pump that Mr Heard and his committee were responsible for creating.
The upgrade in 2004 to a cement-bottomed pool with full chlorination and filtering, plus extra maintenance and the provision of lifeguards, helped lead to Mr Heard's change of heart in his letter."I think our request that 'the lake should always be free' should be forgotten," he said.
With all the expenses, in 2011-12 it cost $250,000 to operate the swimming lake - including $50,000 in depreciation.
The council will consider throwing open the debate to the public soon.