Knee jerk planning at its worst

The Beagle Editor,

Lobbying for a New Swimming Pool or Aquatic centre as it’s now being called has been going for many years now in Batemans Bay . Several of the Councillors have made promises over recent times how they support the of development of a new swimming centre in Batemans Bay even saying what they’d do fund the project. The local State Member has encouraged council to progress the idea by making a submission for Grant Funding. Apparently grant funding applications for such things close in September just a few weeks away.

Councillors would very likely have discussed the idea of providing a new Swimming Pool – Aquatic Centre in Batemans Batemans Bay behind “Closed Doors” in the budget discussions earlier this year because they have just endorsed Councils Delivery Program and Operational Plan So what did they vote on. Council is planning to spend $54.9 million on capital projects in 2017-18. The following table shows the capital projects to be delivered in 2017-18 by service area. So what do they have in this year's budget for swimming pools RS706 - Swimming Pools - Minor Renewals (all locations) $25,000 RS7206 - Energy Performance Contract - Moruya Pool $86,400 RS7207 - Moruya Pool - Epoxy Finishes* $76,000 RS7302 - Energy Performance Contract - Narooma Pool $28,000 * partially or fully funded by the Community and Transport Infrastructure Fund The following is an extract of the table in Notes to the Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2016 that presents all assets and liabilities that have been measured and recognised at fair values: Note 27. Fair value measurement Swimming pools - Date of last Valuation 30/6/2016 - $1,234,000 Swimming pools Assets within this classification comprise the swimming pools. Swimming Pools were valued in-house utilising Council's experienced engineering staff. The cost approach has been used based on the replacement cost for each pool by componentising its significant parts. While some elements of gross replacement values may be supported from market evidence (Level 2 input) other inputs (such as estimates of pattern of consumption, residual value, asset condition and useful life) required extensive professional judgment and impacted significantly on the final determination of fair value It is understood that in their budget workshop they discussed the Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre and agreed that they didn't have the money for it nor did they have the money to maintain such a facility. It is also understood that Council have at present no definative plan that they could offer to seek a grant and have done no costings or business plan showing the cost of building an aquatic centre and then maintaining that centre in satisfactory order for the next forty years of its expected life. Councillors might like to confirm whether or not that is the case. It seems no provisions have been made in the Budget Process forward estimates and planning for a new pool – aquatic centre in Batemans Bay and the Narooma Pool isn't too far behind either. Councillors might like to confirm or otherwise the situation with budgetary measures and progress on the matter. Councillors, the Mayor and senior staff will be asked to confirm (at next Monday's Aquatic Centre meeting on Monday 2pm at the Catalina Country Club ) if they have engaged a consultant to quickly prepare a grant submission for the Aquatic Centre to be lodged by the end of the month. They will also be asked for a firm commitment to replace the 50m pool with a 50m pool. While Council says it has undergone community consultation it HAS NOT asked the community if they are happy to have a shorter pool and they have not advised the community of their long term plan regarding the existing Batemans Bay pool and its replacement. They might also like to confirm if it is true that they are intending to put the Aquatic Centre where the pool is now and have the Performing Arts centre where the old Bowling Club is sited and move the Putt-Putt to the end of the reserve where there is an empty space next to the pool. So far Council has spent $6,000 for the initial draft layout and $92,000 for the second one PLUS another $20,000 for a ‘variation’ and now it appears as if they have changed their minds again and have a brand new layout. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say because the rumour mills are spinning wildly due to their secrecy policy of saying nothing of any substance to the public. We shouldn't forget that this has been going on since 2010 when Hanging Rock was identified as a regionally significant site in Council’s Recreation and Open Space Strategy. In March 2012 Council endorsed the engagement of strategic leisure consultant, Montemare Consulting, to undertake independent market research and statistically reliable consultation to inform a feasibility study and the development of concept options for the site. Options and study findings to date were workshopped with Councillors and Sunset Committee members on the 5 February 2013. In a 2013 report to Council they talked about Option 1. for Hanging Rock recreation development that would include indoor sports & aquatic centre, performing arts theatre, community centre components and education expansion. That report concluded with: Notwithstanding these benefits, Council and the community face a difficult road ahead. These types of facilities have significant capital and ongoing operational costs, and hard decisions will need to be made in the future if Council and the community wish to proceed with the development of the Hanging Rock precinct. However in the first instance, the significant consultation, market research and concept development work undertaken to date needs to be canvassed with the broader community to determine a preferred direction to progress to further planning. Even if a substantial State or Federal grant is obtained to progress a New Aquatic and Performing Arts Centre in Batemans Bay in the McKay Park Sporting Precinct where will the future maintenance funding for it all come from, user pays or ratepayer subsidy’s. What of the Mayors electioneering that was going to see the sale of the Batemans Bay resort to pay for it ? Is this why they want to sell "Crack a Tinnie Park" as well? Those Councillors who spruiked support for such a facility before last years Council Elections now need to explain how they are going to come good with their support and in the process gain some community credibility. Monday should be a very interesting day

Allan Brown


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