Editorial Aug 18th

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

This has indeed been an interesting week for Eurobodalla residents and ratepayers with the final reveal of the concept plans for the proposed new $46 million aquatic centre and performing arts space in Batemans Bay. Up until this week the entire process of discussions of what might be in the design, where it might be located, what facilities might be included, how much it might cost to construct and most importantly how much such a facility might cost to run and where all the money was to come from had been a BIG SECRET and only a handful of those in the community were entrusted in the deliberations and they were sworn to confidentiality and NOT allowed to say anything at all to anyone. There was “community input” to the designs etc with representative members of a few select groups such as the long-suffering Batemans Bay Aquatic Group who have been lobbying for over twenty years for a heated pool along with representatives of a well informed and progressive Performance Space group who, whilst wanting to see a performance/exhibition space come to fruition also had the sense of mind to realise that such a facility needed to be in the context of the bigger picture of the Batemans Bay city precinct. The official sunset committee that is chaired and directed by Council and with that direction a concept plan for a $46 million aquatic cum performance space has been drafted by a consultant. Up until now this was all SECRET stuff. This week saw the cat let out of the bag in a very big way. Why? Because Council has no money for such a facility and will be going cap in hand to the State Government seeking grant funds from two sources. Sporting and Culture. They are hoping for around $1 million from Culture and $35 million from Sporting. In order to apply they needed a plan. In order to apply they need the plan endorsed by the Councillors. In order for the Councillors to endorse a concept plan and to recommend going ahead with seeking funding it requires a business plan. That business plan asks can the community afford it . Here in lies a BIG Problem. Up until now no-one knew how much it was going to cost. Now they do and they also know that such a facility is estimated to have a running cost of $300,000 per year. The depreciation of the asset is considerably more. The councillors can NOT commit to such an additional outlay without identifying where in the already restricted budget such maintenance will be funded from. They also need to ensure that they have the WIDER community support that will allow them to either increase rates to cover the additional costs or reduce services elsewhere to do so. To top it all off this week saw it revealed that the proposed aquatic centre will only have a 25m pool with a justification given that Narooma has a 50m pool and as such, provides the shire with that facility used by schools and training who require 50m. So the coming public meetings on Monday will be very interesting now that the public are becoming aware of the details. Until next, lei

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