Dear Beagle Editor, Not being a swimmer as such I still have an interest in the my financial future which includes my steadily growing rates. Alarm bells ring for fixed income retirees when they hear that their council wants to build a $46 million pool and have a financial plan that no-one is allowed to look at based on figures that no one has seen with projections on revenue streams that are very questionable, even from the little I have read to date. I have drafted out some of my concerns below. I do find it very interesting that while the people of Batemans Bay have twigged on loosing their 50m pool the Narooma residents are sitting back saying nothing even though the strategy and the very wise opinion of the consultant Council imported from Queensland has all but declared that the 50m Narooma Pool will more than likely be replaced with a 25m. Especially if the so-called Council economic realists have their way. Maybe the southern councillors might like to advise their voters that they have pretty much endorsed the demise of their community funded 50m pool when it comes up for replacement. Blissfully naive they are also unaware that their rates are going to be increased to subsidise the very expensive Big Yoke that will be the proposed $46 million BATEMANS BAY Performing Arts and Aquatic Centre. The PAAC - It will end up being a 'pakapoo ticket'. The info below and my observations are from: Extract from Draft Aquatic Strategy for ESC by Otium Consulting Group February 2017
8. Stakeholder Engagement
In keeping with Council’s brief for this project, a targeted stakeholder engagement process was undertaken in order to inform the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy. Interviews were held with the following groups:
YMCA management and pool managers
Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce
Eurobodalla Health Service Community Consultation Committee
Batemans Bay U3A
Members of Council’s Sunset Committee Note – “members”
Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee
Batemans Bay Tigers Rugby League (Juniors)
Batemans Bay Tigers Rugby League (Seniors)
Bay Soldiers Club
Village Centre Batemans Bay
Range of other community/ cultural organisations Who?
Note: No mention of schools, sporting bodies (other than BB Tigers Rugby League) or “athletic” groups like the triathletes, and no-one outside the Batemans Bay area despite the project’s impacts on the whole shire.
8.1 Consultation Themes
A number of key themes relating to aquatic and leisure facilities emerged from this consultation:
1. There is a demand for year-round, indoor, heated water.
2. The future potential redevelopment of Mackay Park should ensure the facilities, programs and services are multi-use.
3. The provision of adequate car parking and access arrangements for any potential Mackay Park redevelopment is critical.
Note - No mention of a “theme” to address and satisfy the community’s needs/wants?
8.2 Consultation Summary
A summary of consultation advice and comments related to aquatic and leisure facilities is outlined below:
There is an increasing demand for better accessibility within Council’s swimming pools.
It is difficult to service the optimal temperature needs of different pool users within the one body of water.
All of Council’s swimming centres are used for carnivals and regional swim events. Note ALL but not if the BBay pool is to be only 25m. Where is the sport in the Sports Grant?
There is high demand for lane access during peak times at Council’s swimming centres. Note – this would be worse with a smaller lap pool
Swim Clubs are based at all three of Council’s swimming centres. Note - with club meeting room facilities?
While the primary demand is for a year-round, heated facility in Batemans Bay, a 50m pool is still sought in order to support carnivals and high level training and swim squad/ club activities Note that there is demand for a 50 metre pool contrary to the spin in council’s newsletter!
Council’s three swimming centres are ageing and tired in appearance and do not meet the full needs of the community. No argument there but why are they in such a state?
The Narooma Swimming Centre has received $350,000 in NSW Government funding to develop a splash park.
There is a high demand for a hydrotherapy pool due to the older population in Eurobodalla.
An indoor aquatic facility should consider opening walls to spill out to adjacent greenspace in the warmer months. Note - Not included in the concept plan for Batemans Bay.
Any future facility improvements at Council’s swimming centres should incorporate improved spectator seating, shade, allied health, crèche and improved food and beverage facilities. Note - spectator seating isn’t obvious in the Batemans Bay concept plan
Marketing and communication at Council’s swimming centres could be improved. What would be the point considering their physical state as mentioned above?
If a major redevelopment of Mackay Park occurs, the co-location of a range of sporting facilities should be considered including aquatic, indoor court, health and fitness, outdoor sport and mini-golf.- Note no indoor court facility mentioned in the concept plan.
If the Batemans Bay Swimming Centre was upgraded to include a gym, indoor heated pool and allied health services, these elements would likely be supported by local sporting clubs. Note – only a few consulted but likely to be true
There needs to be adequate car parking at Mackay Park if the facilities are improved/ expanded.
Road access into the Mackay Park precinct should be improved. Traffic banks up on exit to the highway especially during major events.
The Batemans Bay Village Shopping Centre is constrained for future expansion. Lack of car parking is a major issue for the Shopping Centre. Whilst it may be an expensive solution, the future potential connectivity between the Shopping Centre and Mackay Park could be mutually beneficial. A bridge to the empty shops? The proposed new gym would be directly in conflict with the existing gym over the road. The assumption that they would relocate would be a poor one and if they did this would leave another section of the Village Centre without a tennant.
Development of the Mackay Park precinct should be a tourism-driven site which is a catalyst for growth in Batemans Bay, but needs to be consistent with a broader vision for Batemans Bay as a whole and the updated Destination Management Plan. Note – over-riding emphasis on tourism – locals will still be the major users.
The demographics of the region means good disability access and internal mobility must be taken into account in design
There is a need for additional indoor sports courts See above
Up to 50% of turnover for businesses occurs in the Christmas and Easter holiday periods and leisure related businesses can struggle outside of the peak tourist season (e.g. recent closure of the Batemans Bay Cinema) Note – irrelevancies here!
It can be difficult to secure learn-to-swim instructors. Note – due to poor current facilities, not offering year–round all-weather usage
The indoor sports court at Hanging Rock is at capacity Note - 3rd mention – is this the next consultancy assignment?
Lack of access to indoor sports is inhibiting the development of indoor court sports other than basketball. Note – 4th mention – the next consultancy assignment!
There is a need for an additional two indoor courts to service indoor sport needs and co-location with other infrastructure at Mackay Park (e.g. aquatic, health and fitness, café, administration) would be a benefit. Note – now beyond doubt! (Council has mentioned its intention to build a multi-court facility at Gundary Park, Moruya! What odds for Otium’s involvement?)
NAROOMA RESIDENTS AND RATEPAYERS - PLEASE PAY ATTENTION - YES THAT ALSO INCLUDES YOU COUNCILLOR BROWN.
Extract from Draft Aquatic Strategy for ESC by Otium Consulting Group February 2017
Narooma Swimming Centre
Geotechnical investigation into foundation and subgrade movement and the integrity of the pool at shell Narooma Swimming Centre needs to be undertaken. Subject to the outcome of this investigation, the repair or replacement of the existing 50m pool may be required. The timing of these works will be subject to the outcome of the engineering investigation.
Narooma Swimming Centre currently has a 50m indoor pool servicing the community. Further, the Centre is proposed to be positioned as the Shire’s swimming carnival and events facility. On this basis, the need to replace the existing indoor 50m pool once it reaches the end of its useful life with another 50m enclosed pool is considered necessary. Ramp access into the pool will improve accessibility for people with disabilities, older adults and persons with an injury. An expanded concourse and spectator seating is necessary in order to better service the larger number of participants and spectators that gather for aquatic events. Funding of $350,000 for the development of leisure water is already committed.
Whilst the co-location of aquatic facilities with other elements (eg health and fitness, wellness, retail and food and beverage) support a centre to better maximise its viability, once the proposed new Batemans Bay Leisure Centre is developed it is highly unlikely Council will be able to meet the capital and operational funding required to upgrade its other pools to this level.
Future Development: Priority
Indoor Aquatic Facility
Install leisure water (external funding of $350,000 committed) – short term
When the pool reaches the end of its useful asset life, replace with an enclosed 50m x 20m (8 lane) pool, ramp access, moveable bulkhead and new plant – medium term
Expand concourse and spectator seating when the pool is eventually replaced - long term
The logic of the highlighted sections is a bit strange. It would make more sense to include the shire’s only – if it really has to be just one – 50 metre pool for carnivals and events in the Bateman’s Bay project because –
The population is concentrated at the northern end of the shire and logically should have access to a/the full size pool.
Less traveling to carnivals and events would be necessary with the facility located nearer the denser population areas.
The provision of spectator seating and other facilities for carnivals and events would be more easily and economically achieved, and be made available sooner, if incorporated in the building design and construction of the Batemans Bay centre.
Parking facilities and bus access at Batemans Bay are far superior to existing or potential provisions in Narooma due to its constricted site.
Using Otium’s opinion that only one 50 metre is needed in the shire, the ultimate cost of replacing the Narooma Pool with a 25 metre pool would be much less leaving funds to incorporate there more of the features cited as essential to increase revenue in the Batemans Bay project. Just remember that the same consultant who wrote the Draft Aquatic Strategy for ESC on July 29th (1:09:00) told the Council that "ordinarily we wouldn't recommend a 50m pool for a population of less than 100,000 just in terms of its viability". You might like to mull all that over and if you have any questions write them down ans send them to the Council and Councillors because they are totally on top of this entire mess and have clearly thought through the Aquatic Strategy, the costings, the population logistics and the forecast for growth in the shire. So much so that they had no need to consult anyone that might actually have an opinion outside of their "chosen ones". Name and address supplied