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Response to ex-councillor Burnside's letter - In hot water

Dear Beagle Editor, Last week, I received a call from ex-councillor Neil Burnside. While he hadn’t read Council’s Aquatic Strategy (the policy document under-pinning the Mackay park development), Neil had taken exception to my letter alerting the Narooma people to seek assurances as to the future of their existing 50 metre pool – my letter had been written following reported statements on this matter from Mayor Innes and Cr Constable.

Neil Burnside’s letter – Narooma News 20 December 2017

In hot water

I take strong issue with the argument put by Jeff de Jager (Narooma News, December 6 and below) in which he seems to be saying that, as the Narooma pool is old and needs work, a replacement 50m pool should be built in Batemans Bay (presumably at Narooma's expense).

I have watched, in recent years, the continual stream of demands made by Batemans Bay residents for a replacement pool, with the argument being that they have some sort of entitlement to the facility, and that governments, presumably local, state and federal, should cough up the money for it, and Mr de Jager wants it to be at the expense of Narooma's facility, because it's old and needs work.

To reiterate the history (most of the Bay proponents should know this), Narooma has a covered 50m heated pool because Narooma residents raised the money over a quarter of a century to pay for it. Following a generous bequest by Ted Street in the early 1960s, Narooma people raised hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions in today's money) to pay for their pool. Contrast this with the Bay's effort of $50,000 over the past 25 years. Mr de Jager thinks it's reasonable that Narooma ratepayers, having paid for their own facility, should now pay for one in the Bay, because residents up there can't be bothered raising the money.

Mr de Jager should consider applying some elbow grease to cake stalls, trivia nights and communal barbecues rather than writing letters to newspapers looking for government handouts and dumping on the great facility that Narooma residents gained through their sweat and huge effort over decades.

Neil Burnside


My response -

Thanks, Neil for responding to my letter but I feel there are a couple of aspects that should be clarified.

Firstly, as far as history goes, the residents of all three towns benefited from the generosity of the Street family's donations towards building their swimming pools - these donations topped up local fund raising and in some cases interest free loans from council. While the communities' fund raising activities were significant, there was as far as I can see no favouritism shown by the "authorities".

Secondly, I am not saying that the Bay should get their 50 metre pool at Narooma's expense. Mayor Innes and Cr Constable had made statements about the Narooma pool so what I was saying was that if council now can't afford to replace the Bay's 50 metre pool like for like, then the people of Narooma should seek assurances that their pool will remain 50 metres long when it is ultimately replaced.

Thirdly, there is a flaw in the council's logic to make the biggest populations of the Shire's serious club swimmers and school carnival participants travel to Narooma for the shire’s one remaining Olympic length pool when the opportunity should be taken now to replace the Bay's pool with the same sized pool as currently exists.

Fourthly, the purchase of the bowling club during your term on council was heralded as an opportunity too good to miss for a gateway development for the whole shire - no parochialism there either, eh?

Jeff de Jager

Coila Narooma News, December 6 50-metre story gets longer Further to the Narooma News article on November 29, “Mayor, councillor back Narooma pool as Shire’s premier swimming facility”, it should be noted that the Odium consultancy’s aquatic strategy also says: “Narooma Swimming Centre does not reflect contemporary aquatic facility trends, has few components that contribute to more successful facilities and/ or cater for a diversified range of markets.” It continues: “The centre will need some fairly major work in the not too distant future … there is evidence of foundation and sub-grade movement which is likely to be a result (of) changes in the ground water conditions. A leak test of the pool and pipe work and rectification of the associated leaks was recommended. The report recommended a geotechnical engineer be engaged to review the material under the concourse and around the pool and building structure. This should provide sufficient information to establish what is causing the movement. … it recommended that destructive testing and defect mapping be undertaken to determine the effective life left in the pool shell … these works would enable informed discussion of the pros and cons of pool repair versus pool replacement and the various options available, together with the preparation of associated costs.” Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes and Councillor Phil Constable might like to give concrete assurances that when the aging Narooma pool does require replacement, it will be with another 50-metre pool. It’s crazy to suggest the Olympic pool, to be the shire’s focal point for competitive swimming, should be anywhere other than in the most populous part of the shire i.e. Batemans Bay. Jeff de Jager


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