The Aquatic Strategy you have when you don't consult
Dear Beagle Editor, Apparently, according to the documents now on Council's website, the Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy is "Based on an assessment of the condition of existing aquatic facilities in Eurobodalla Shire, population and tourist demographics and projections, stakeholder engagement and current trends and best practice in the delivery of aquatic facilities, the consultant recommends in the draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that the three aquatic facilities in Eurobodalla Shire be positioned as follows: Pool facility and Strategic positioning Batemans Bay Pool Program and aquatic leisure centre A contemporary leisure centre facility mix featuring different programs, leisure, fitness and adventure water options, health and fitness facilities, retail, food and beverage and co-location with visitor information centre, community and arts and cultural facilities. Narooma Pool Event and competition swimming centre Enclosed 50m pool retained to accommodate Eurobodalla Shire’s swimming carnival and event needs. Moruya Pool Retain as district level pool Future development does not conflict with, or duplicate, the Batemans Bay and Narooma aquatic facilities. That's right "the consultant recommends in the draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy" in a strategy that the consultant was commissioned to write for Council to inform the concept plan. BUT WHERE IS THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION ? By their own document "In accordance with the consultant brief and Council’s resolutions, Otium Planning Group have developed a draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy, an assessment of preferred arts and cultural facilities within the precinct, and a draft business case with concept plans for two options for consideration by Council" The document states in regards to Initial community engagement and preliminary EOI for potential Public Private Partnership Council has, over a number of years, consulted with the community about the need for an indoor aquatic centre and arts and cultural facility in Batemans Bay. In 2012, Council commissioned a survey of Eurobodalla Shire residents and rate payers in relation to long-term financial planning. The survey of 400 people found that 61% of residents and 52% of non-resident ratepayers indicated that it was very important, to at least somewhat important, that a regional aquatic facility is built in the next ten years. It has been confirmed that those called were NOT asked if they would accept the exisiting 50m pool in Mackay Park being removed. The wording of the question was to establish an inclination towards a regional aquatic centre being built. The Aquatic Centre on the table was at Hanging Rock (plan and details below). The components of the proposed aquatic centre was not described and at no point was it conveyed that such a centre would only have a 25m pool to replace the existing 50m town pool. The survey of 400 people also found that 55% of residents and 51% of non-resident ratepayers indicated that it was very important, to at least somewhat important, that a regional performing arts centre be built in the next ten years. Some Background that ties to this period in time PerFEX NEWSLETTER NO. 19 OCTOBER 2012 In our last newsletter we stated that the original Hanging Rock project using an architecture firm had been cancelled. The Council decided that the new approach would be for a study to be taken first as to the needs of various existing and potential users and recommendations made as to which facilities will be included. The agreed recommendations will then be passed to a new firm of architects to produce a Hanging Rock plan. The consultant chosen to conduct the first exercise is Kym Shilton who is a director of Montemare, a business and leisure consultancy. The study is in two parts -discussions with the users of Hanging Rock and secondly a telephone based household survey (random sample of 400) which will seek the views of the public on what facilities they would like to see there The meeting was chaired by returning Councillor Rob Pollock. He apologised for what he termed had been a “wasted 18 months”and also stated that at the moment, nothing was either in or out of the Hanging Rock complex; in other words, Council has no pre-determined plans.Present at the meeting were representatives on behalf of the tennis, soccer, swimming, yachting and rugby union clubs, the basketball court, the Marine Rescue Patrol centre, the aquatic centre lobby group and the Wollongong University campus. In a meeting lasting 2 hours each was given time to state what their aim for Hanging Rock was. (It was interesting that the Aquatic centre group was proposing a 25m indoor pool but the Swimming club insisted on a 50m pool.) In 2013, Council exhibited options for aquatic, preforming arts and community arts facilities at Hanging Rock. Council received 370 submissions from the community. While the largest number of submissions supported only aquatic and other recreation and sports facilities at Hanging Rock, many submissions acknowledged the importance of arts and cultural facilities to the community and that these facilities should be provided at a location other than Hanging Rock MINUTE NO 13/259 O13/ 145 HANGING ROCK MASTER PLAN AND BUSINESS PLAN E10.448013/259 MOTION Councillor Pollock/Councillor Leslight THAT Council: 1.Receive and note the report titled Hanging Rock Master Plan and Business Plan and associated attachment. 2.Proceed with an amendment to the Hanging Rock Plan of Management to reflect Council’s endorsed concept plan for the site as adjusted for detailed survey and design. 3.As part of the September financial review Council consider funding for a temporary project manager to oversight preparation of tender documents and calling of tenders for the preparation of detailed architectural plans, estimates of cost and business plans for stages 1 & 2 of option 2 –no arts model, which includes the following components: (a)Stage 1 -Outdoor Sport Fields and Tennis Centre –realign sports fields to new configurations, new access and carparking and re-instate remote control car areas. New tennis courts, tennis club rooms, access and carparking. (b)Stage 2 - New Indoor Aquatic Leisure Facilities –leisure pool, new program pool, spa and sauna, 25 metre pool, health and fitness, wellness/retail, multi-purpose/community rooms associated amenities and support facilities, village green and partial carparking. 4.Council consider funding for the completion of detailed architectural plans in the 2014/15 operations plan based on the tenders received to develop this project to a shovel ready state.(The Motion on being put was declared CARRIED.)
It is confirmed now that the Otium consultant developed a draft Aquatic Strategy around the information given to them and it appears that somewhere in the mix the Batemans Bay people had been specifically consulted and agreed to forgoing their existing 50m pool for a 25m heated indoor pool. The consultant then used the draft Aquatic Strategy that they developed to inform the design which they also advised and not a single councillor or any members of the community saw the draft Aquatic Strategy which has NOT been endorsed by Councilors or the community. At NO POINT has the community been asked specifically about the 50m pool and its future and how it might fit in with an aquatic centre. At NO POINT has the community or councillors been included in ANY discussions regarding a shire wide Aquatic Strategy let alone a shire wide Cultural Facilities Strategy. Why bother having any consultation at all, and why bother having councillors when all we need is for staff to tell out of town consultants what they envisage and provide them with highly questionable statistics that purport to be community consultation. This is a very BIG FAIL and will become another example of Council's failure to undertake due process in public inclusion and consultation irrespective of the outcome of the grant application. Name and address supplied.