At Council's meeting of September 12th, 2017 Trish Hellier presented at Public Forum. Below is her presentation for those who were not able to follow the meeting via Live Streaming. Good morning Mayor Innes, Councillors, General Manager, Staff, Gallery, and those comfortable Live Streaming .
My name is Patricia Hellier from North Batemans Bay I would like to address Item No. IR 17/ 053 SUBMISSION ON RMS BATEMANS BAY BRIDGE.
I live north of the Batemans Bay Bridge and I cross the bridge at least once a day and some times more often. At a Council meeting earlier this year I said that when we purchased our property we were fully aware of the raising of the bridge and the approximate times this occurred and if we had appointments we timed them accordingly.
I was present on the two occasions when Hon Andrew Constance MP made the announcement for funding for the new bridge.
I did apply for the RMS’s STRATEGIC OPTION ASSESSMENT WORKSHOP, unfortunately the RMS apparently only chose two people to represent the community and I like many others who applied was not accepted.
A few weeks ago I attend two of the three information sessions conducted by the RMS. I arrived at the Batemans Bay Community Centre at the given time of 4pm for the first session and there were two other people there before me. I immediately raised with a employee of the RMS that in one of their adds they had a session advertised at the Batemans Bay Primary School on the Saturday 19th August the same day and time that they had advertised a session at the Community Centre this was immediately recognised as a mistake by the RMS.
Within a half an hour there was a good cross section of people, many familiar faces, I was pointedly asked by one person and this was not Mr Peter Bernard is “Liz here, is the GM here, is Warren here” and at last weeks meeting we heard the Mayor state that the Councillors had their own meeting with the RMS. There was one very loud irate man who raised a number of questions with the RMS Project Manager and others that had a varied views and concerns on this project, I left at 5.45pm. The second session I attended was at the Village Centre on a very cold windy afternoon and it was hard to gage the interest from the community.
We all acknowledge that forward planning is extremely important and I realise that discussions about a new bridge or an alternate route past Batemans Bay has been on the books for a number of years. I am fully aware of the traffic issue at Christmas, Easter and Long Weekend etc. around this particular area and in the shire generally with the influx of tourist, BUT we who live in this shire are the lucky ones, we are not sitting in long traffic queues seven days a week like many living in larger cities and while I hear many locals complain about the wait realistically we are spoiled .
YES we need a plan that will provide for the community for the next 20 years, and while I see that the option being put forward may eliminate a traffic problem on the north side of the bridge I can only see a larger problem with traffic merging onto North Street Batemans Bay, as currently the first exit off the bridge onto Clyde street is to be eliminated in this proposal. It is being suggested that there will be a lift at the southern end of the bridge for the pedestrians I have to wonder how much will the maintenance of this lift cost and how many people will be prepared to enter this lift at night and what about vandalism?
I believe there has to be better options and further studies should be conducted and even as we sit here today the studies on the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage is being conducted at Korners Park Batemans Bay for this project. If I had to vote I would vote for a deferral until further information becomes available on a number of aspects of this project from the RMS. According to a speaker at last weeks Extra Ordinary Council Meeting there has been a “blanket claim lodged” in relation to crown lands and this could impact this proposal by the RMS, surely until this issue is finalised this project should be postponed.
Yesterday I was asked what my preferred option would be and the only one I would consider would be the East Option (the pink/purple line) which is the one closest to the existing bridge structure with an exit onto Clyde Street and I would vote to retain the current bridge for a tourist attraction.
There are many who live just north of the bridge that do not have a car and walk into town for all of their needs, some even walk to work. One lady complained to me as recently she purchased a new unit on Wharf Road and when she bought there she sold her car because she could walk to Bridge Plaza. With the current plan being displayed many have realised that their daily walk will appear to become a marathon hike with an expected exit being North Street instead of Clyde Street and then ofcourse there will be a wind issue for many , and what about the noise level given the height of the bridge and what affect will it have on the retirement village across from Korners Park, and you may well ask what will happen to the coffee shops, ice creamy, pizza shops etc. along Clyde Street that currently enjoy the foot traffic off the bridge?
12 months ago I was asked by one a land owners on the Clayton’s land on Wharf Road if I had any ideas what they could do with this land that had been deemed not to be built on, I suggested that they should seriously they think about establishing a tourist attraction with a playground area and coffee shop on this land and set up an alternative mode of transport across the Clyde River from the north side to the Batemans Bay CBD area and I said tongue in cheek perhaps a revamp and renovation of the old punt system, alternatively perhaps Jet Ski’s hire which is great way to get the adrenaline pumping. I can just see a Jet Ski Parking Bay being established with the old parking metres being bought out of retirement and placed on the foreshore perhaps they could be mistaken for a sculpture or 2 (I say this in jest of course BUT then, maybe not).
We are here today to discuss this item on the Agenda and I would like to draw the Councillors to the following words on the Code of Meeting Practice – ‘We are an engaged and connected community – We work together to achieve our goals ‘ – and yet here today we have another item on the Agenda in relation to Media access surely any and ALL Media Access is the way to engage with the community this is called a DEMOCRACY.
WHY am I here today, I have to ask the question, am I wasting my time? Is the exercise of Public Forum becoming pointless as I can assure you that question is well and truly out there? Councillors ask yourself the question why are we not seeing those many interesting speakers addressing this Council?
I note that this item on the Agenda is dated 1st September 2017 and I have to question has this proposal already been submitted to the RMS without the endorsement of our councillors, I will reinter ate “we are an engaged and connected community – we work together to achieve our goals” there has been NO consultation with Council and the Community on this issue.
Not all Councillors present here today to vote, live in the Batemans Bay area, BUT all have been elected to represent the whole shire and given this project is the gateway from the north entrance of the shire therefore it needs serious consideration as it can reflect on the whole shire and this group of Councillors have the opportunity to GET IT RIGHT .
This is the largest proposed project in the area for a number of years, careful consider should be given at this point in time to all aspects of this project therefore intensive community consultation should have been conducted by this council to collect as may varied views and thoughts as possible.
Councillor it would appear that you are here today to vote to endorse this proposal , has this proposal already been submitted? STOP for a moment and THINK, you do not have to vote for this proposal, you have a CHOICE, you have been elected to represent the voters for this shire, look at the alternatives, you don’t have to “GO WITH THE FLOW” and if you do you will be the council that will be held liable and if you decide to vote against this proposal you will not be “hung drawn and quartered at the briefing after this meeting” and if the rumoured ramifications are “that you will be locked out of the loop” - WELL SO WHAT!!!!! .