More information coming to the surface about the Mackay Park project

Dear Beagle Editor, 2018 is now upon us and Council will soon return to business. At the forefront, in the minds of the Batemans Bay community will be the continuing issues around the new pool and the old bowling club. Added to this will be the construction of the new bridge, major traffic holdups due to the massive earthworks required on the northern side and the isolation of Clyde Street west as the motel is knocked down and work begins on the south side. The Batemans Bay CBD is going to be dusty, congested and noisy. Add to the mix additional traffic controls and it is going to be a dog’s breakfast.

But there is all the positive spin you can imagine coming from Council. The following is from a widely circulated report by one of the representative groups on the Mackay Park Sunset Committee advising their members openly and transparently of the latest Sunset Committee meeting discussions, as you might normally expect from a representative charged with such a role as to represent and then report back. Your readers, who may not have seen the report might be interested in some of the observations made and of the advice the committee were given: The information below has been modified to make it readable and to remove names. "Late last year the Mayor was very excited to report to the Mackay Park Sunset Committee meeting (Wednesday 13th December) that Council’s application for $8m for a cultural grant has moved through to the second stage and that they are very hopeful of success. Similarly, although the $26m which makes up the Aquatic Centre Application has not yet gone through its first stage, they are very hopeful of success. "Final funding will not be known until sometime in the first half of this year.

"In the meantime, there is a $10m grant through the Federal Government which is to be applied for through the Building Better Regions Fund.

It was stated in the circulated report that Council advised the members “that Council do have some money which they can contribute themselves, remembering that the overall suggested cost supplied by the Consultants was $36m for the Aquatic project and $13m for the Cultural Arts project, $46m in total.” The report also said that “There is also an expectancy that these costs could rise considerably because of the buoyancy of the infrastructure market in NSW currently.”

The report continued with “The committee were told that the Community Centre and the Visitor Information Centre can be sold, as the new centre can provide what these facilities have previously offered, and the income generated, included in the development. Similarly, the money from the eventual sale of the northern site can also be a contributing factor.”

In the same summary report of the Sunset Committee member back to her own group she advised “Next Steps for design of Aquatic and Arts Facility

Involved Council members have recently made a road trip, largely for Aquatic Centre reconnaissance to I suspect, shore up the belief that a 25m pool is the way to go. First stop was Shoalhaven pool and then on to the Sutherland Shire, where they also visited the ageing Performing Arts Centre.

"Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever side of the fence you are taking, we were told that all

advice received, says no more than a 25m pool and no more than 500 seats in the auditorium.

However, there is an opportunity for the Sunset Committee to also have a road trip and we have been invited to submit ideas of what facilities could be worth visiting, so if any recipients of this have a cultural centre which they feel is worth looking at, then please let us know. Once the inclusions are finalised, the centre can move forward into the design stage.”

“We had very much hoped for and had been advised that a larger footprint was a possibility. This was in the hope that we could include a larger auditorium, catering for bigger acts, but apparently the footprint is now not movable, although it was encouraging that everyone seemed to agree that flexibility is the key and that the build could be staged, dependent upon funding.”

The report then outlined the presentation from Council's Director of Community Sevices on experience with Moruya Arts Facility “This was particularly interesting as most of us had no idea what is happening at the Moruya library.

"Council particularly wanted to explain how the eventual design had changed over time from the ‘square box’ of early first concept. The Director mentioned 20 different drawings! The gallery will be a little larger than the current Mechanic’s Institute, but the Council director urged us too to go for quality above all, which is what they are striving for in Moruya. The eventual plan certainly looks impressive, although it will not be finished for some time as more grants have to be applied for.”

Of interest in the report for members was the : Next steps for site of former Bowling Club

Well it seems like the RMS want the site after all and will rent it for the three to four years of the life of the construction of the new bridge. The greens will be used for machinery and some of the inside for administrative offices. We were assured that any fittings worth any money will either be sold or re-cycled.

“A council planner listed the reasons why Council is no longer seeking a PPP for the development of the northern site, although still lists possible future inclusions in development by the private sector as residential, hotel, conference and events centre.”

Again of interest in the widely distributed representative group's report was : Discussion on tenure and role of Sunset Committee The Sunset Committee was on the Agenda of the previous day’s Council Meeting and two subjects were discussed:

a) A replacement from the business sector, following the resignation of a {member}. It was decided not to replace him at this stage which leaves eight community members.

b) Extending the life of the committee for another 12 months until 31 st December 2018. It was

agreed to do this.

The representatives report author also states: “I had also written letters to the Sunset Committee in support of the recent resignation and followed this with a recent letter to all Councillors, asking for greater real participation and transparency. Because of these ongoing concerns, the Mayor allowed us time to air our feelings, although continued to defend Council’s process. It is reported that the Perfex representative informed the meeting that she particularly had trouble with continuing for another 12 months under the same rules of engagement. U3A strongly supported PerfEx in this and an independent committee member also had issues with the limited parameters of the committee.

It was noted though; “However, I think we all felt that this meeting was more inclusive than at any time previously and interestingly, this was the only time the Consultants had not been present. However, we continue to be briefed, rather than allow for actual discussion. However, the Council communication person went to great lengths to inform us of a more and better ‘engagement’ process, to which we are invited to submit our suggestions.

Other members “on the other hand, praised Council for their handling of the process.” I do hope that your readers are now a bit more informed and that 2018 might see the doors swung open on these once closed-door discussions Name and address supplied (and a copy of the circulated representatives report as evidence)