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Editorial September 8th, 2017

Welcome to this week’s editorial, The audacity of the community—the bold audacity to believe that they should be consulted and included in the decision making process of Council and for that matter all levels of government. Yes, read the reports and it always says that there was community consultation. Somewhere there is a box that needs to be ticked by a bureaucrat that asks “Have you carried out community consultation”. No tick—no prize. It appears now that there was bugger all consultation done in regards to the decision to replace the Batemans Bay 50m pool with a 25m pool. Yes, Council can argue that the did a phone survey and asked 400 or so random people if they wanted a heated aquatic centre but they failed to ask “By the way to you also approve of getting rid of the 50 pool because it really does cost a lot to run and our consultant says that a community under 100,000 doesn’t have a need for a 50m pool. Yes, Council had a committee formed to consult with however it is agreed by most on that committee who were sworn to secrecy that there was bugger all consultation and a whole lot of rhetoric instead where everyone at the end of the day felt equally compromised. But Council have now agreed to go forth and seek a $46 million grant to build the compromise and somewhere on in the forms will be the question “Did you consult with the community?” to which they will apply their pen with a tick smiling that the question didn’t actually seek further details. Many feel that Council needs to prepare itself with telephone books down their trousers as this looks destined to come back and bite them on the arse big time. The Batemans Bay Bridge and the Council submission that has been given to the RMS that had bugger all input from Councillors or the community: As we are now well aware The NSW Government is proposing to replace the existing Batemans Bay bridge with a modern four lane bridge with an off-road shared pathway over the Clyde River. The proposal is to include any necessary upgrades to the Princes Highway/Kings Highway intersection and the existing Batemans Bay bridge will be removed once the new bridge is built. Council made a submission that “is strongly supportive of the preferred option including removal of the existing bridge.” Next week it wants to retrospectively endorse that submission. So what has been put forward on your behalf without any input or consultation to date? Let’s bring you up to running speed. (READ the full submission here http://bit.ly/2f7hVDd )

The submission supports an overpass of the highway over Clyde Street with no direct connection from the highway capable of being provided. Sole access to Clyde Street will therefore be via North Street. In it’s submission “Council accepts this is an inevitable consequence of providing a new bridge sufficiently high enough over the Clyde River to facilitate reasonable boating access.” They acknowledge that this “arrangement will impact the traffic flows throughout the Batemans Bay CBD as traffic will be diverted to these streets, particularly North Street, Clyde Street, Orient Street and Beach Road and suggest that RMS should fully assess the impacts of this change on the traffic movements and operation within Batemans Bay CBD. Council suggests that “These impacts would be partially offset by designing and constructing a new left turn exit from the Village Centre underground car park direct onto Vesper Street to reduce the total traffic volumes exiting via North Street and Beach Road.” The report continues:The removal of vehicular access directly onto Clyde Street has potential negative implications for businesses in Clyde Street. The proposed bridge overpass of Clyde Street opens up significant opportunities to provide a continuous and integrated foreshore beautification, incorporating the connecting underpass road to service west Clyde Street, pedestrian and cycling access, increase parking for the Batemans Bay CBD, continuity of foreshore landscaping, appropriate lighting and new service connections. Council is open to investigating the relocation of the existing public toilet should this be necessary, provided this is at cost to the RMS. Council wishes to retain the local boat ramp on the southern side of the Clyde River as it provides an important access point to the Clyde River. The changed traffic arrangements will require car and boat trailer combination to travel through the CBD area. Therefore Council would propose to limit the current boat trailer parking to the existing arrangements. Access to Clyde Street west will require improved signposting to ensure it can be found with ease The removal of direct access from the Princes Highway into Clyde Street east will also restrict access to the existing regional bus exchange on Clyde Street opposite North Street. The RMS will need to identify, design and construct a new regional bus exchange at a different location working closely with Council, the community and bus operators. Northern Foreshore: The preferred option for the new bridge results in a significant height difference between the new highway and Wharf Road at the intersection. The removal of the existing northern bridge approach provides opportunities to further develop the northern foreshore. It is essential that pedestrians and cyclists are connected from Wharf Road and Old Punt Road onto the new bridge to allow access from North Batemans Bay and the Wharf Road precinct back into the Batemans Bay CBD. A lift should be considered to facilitate access to the shared pathway on the bridge. The lack of a vehicle access to and from Wharf Road will result in diversion of vehicular traffic back to Peninsula Drive. The foreshore areas of Old Punt Reserve and Korners Park are highly utilised by residents, visitors and for events. A high quality of beautification and restoration work with suitable inclusions will be required following construction of the bridge. The foreshore caravan park and residential precinct on Wharf Road will require improved signposting to ensure it can be found with ease. The proposed new bridge will place significant additional reliance on the use of Wharf Road and Peninsula Drive to access the Princes Highway. Wharf Road has been identified by the NSW Government as a coastal erosion hot-spot.Works would need to include a design and construct 450 to 500m section of rock wall to design life that meets sea level rise projections beyond 2100 “This substantial cost cannot be met by Council within the planning and construction period of the new Clyde River bridge crossing. RMS should take some responsibility for investment in this area to address this critical environmental hot- spot and/or engage with the NSW Government to secure funding for the necessary works to secure the Wharf Road access back to Peninsula Drive." I can only suppose that with such detail as you find in Council’s submission on behalf of the Eurobodalla community someone must have been consulted to ensure a box could be ticked. It is more than evident that there is no councillor input into this submission. Yet they will be asked to rubber stamp it and endorse it as a submission of the community. Until next, lei

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