The Batemans Bay Soldiers Club played host to a full house with over 100 attending tonight's public meeting to discuss the Mackay Park precinct project and specifically the issue of the 50m pool.
Very well chaired by John Mobbs the meeting began at 5:30 with introductions by the three key organisers of the Save the 50m Pool campaign.
Above: Coral Anderson, Maureen Searson, John Mobbs and Peter Coggin
Firstly Maureen Searson, then Coral Anderson and Peter Coggin. For those not able to attend the meeting each read their presentation prior to the open forum. They are as follows:
Above: Maureen Searson
Good evening, my name is Maureen Searson First on behalf of this meeting Id like to welcome Clr Pat McGinlay who has come all the way from Dalmeny to be here tonight.
Mayor Innes and all Councillors were invited tonight.
I have apologies from Mayor Liz Innes I will read her letter of apology shortly
Clrs, Mayne, Nathan, Constable, Brown, Pollock send their apologies.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis send their apologies also. The Mayor provided a letter to be read however as time is short it is available here on the front table for anyone to look at. It is also available to read at the end of this article
On to my Presentation –
Eurobodalla Shire Vision and Values
Our Values : "I Feel"
Integrity - We do what we say we will do with honesty, provide consistent advice and behave ethically.
Fairness - We work together, recognise and value the diversity of views in all we do.
Empathy - We show respect, openness and understanding in our interactions and communications with others.
Excellence - We strive to be the best in what we do by fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
Leadership - We set a clear direction, focus attention on what is really important, provide every opportunity to achieve success and lead by example.
Eurobodalla Shire on the beautiful south coast of NSW, surrounded by beaches, bays, rivers, mountain ranges and national parks, shaped by a rich cultural heritage.
To be recognised as a vibrant, caring community enjoying the quality of life afforded by the environment supported by excellence in community government.
For those who don’t know, myself Coral Anderson and Peter Coggan have been meeting weekly and talking to various groups since the 29th August last year when it became clear that Eurobodalla Council’s adoption of plans for the Mackay Park Aquatic/Arts Precinct Re Development was undemocratic and not in the interests of the whole community. Democracy is the principle of social equality. Council’s process was not based on the principle of social equality. Batemans Bay pool user groups, most impacted by the replacement of a 50m pool with a 25m pool, were never involved with the planning or consultation process. Moreover, when seeking endorsement from pool user groups Council withheld key information that the 50m pool was being replaced by a 25m pool. When this was discovered, prior endorsement from these groups was withdrawn.
What do major pool users say?
Jeni McCarthy -Batemans Bay Swimming Club “Our support was with the Council until, we were informed, only when plans/project were released to the public that the Bay area was going to lose their 50m outdoor pool. We need to let you know our honest opinion....we were 100% behind the 25m indoor pool, but to lose the 50m pool was never on our radar."
Jacqueline Heffernan - Principal St Bernards Primary School "We are writing to express our concern that the existing Batemans Bay Swimming Pool will be downsized to a 25 metre pool instead of a 50 metre pool as currently exists. Could you please put forward to those at the meeting that they reconsider the proposal to downsize the pool.”
Erin Eade Rel Principal of Mogo Public School - Mogo Public School is in support of the new leisure centre/swimming complex; however as a school using the public facility we would ask that a 50 metre swimming pool be retained in the leisure facility plan. Schools as part of the swimming programs need this size pool to practise distance swimming techniques as well as tumble turns."
Eurobodalla PSSA -"To build an 8 lane 25m pool will only provide the community with 200m of swimming space which is a 33% reduction on what is currently available. On behalf of our PSSA association we would urge the council to consider an Aquatic Centre with a 50m pool."
Karyn Starma: VP Moruya Surf Life Saving Club - Moruya SLSC has many concerns that the ESC’s preferred option is based on an incomplete business case using incorrect figures for costs and usage and is not in sync with the communities’ spirit, needs or desires... A 25m pool does not meet the training needs of Moruya SLSC members. Nor does it meet the needs of the community who need the stamina and skills of longer distance swimming for ocean activities."
What do experts in swimming say?
Swimming NSW Mark Heathcote to Eurobodalla Shire Council - I am writing on behalf of Swimming NSW to provide a Statement of Support to retain a 50m Olympic sized swimming pool in Batemans Bay. Swimming NSW maintains a membership of over 34,000 members across 12 affiliated Areas and over 350 Clubs where our aim is to promote, to teach and to encourage the sport of swimming. We also administer, promote and encourage Learn-to-Swim and swimming activities for competitive and recreational purposes across a wide range of aquatic facilities state wide.
Clinton Camilleri swimming coach from Auburn Swimming Club - Auburn swimming club attended Batemans Bay aquatic center for its annual training camp this year as it was the perfect preparations for the commonwealth games this year and its trials competition. A few of the necessities I look for when organizing a training camp is 50m and its availability.water space and its availability, large open spaces to integrate our dry land program and affordable accommodation. If any of these three variable are unavailable I will continue looking else where for our camps.
Elite Energy who host the Batemans Bay Triathlon Festival every year - We have been made aware that Eurobodalla Shire Council is planning to re develop Mackay Park Precint changing the 50 metre pool to a 25 metre pool. We feel this would prevent athletes from coming to Batemans Bay to train and join in any swim squads. Elite Energy supports the inclusion of a 50 metre pool in the new Aquatic Centre and welcomes the re development but not at the expense of the 50 metre pool.
Susie Maroney, AOM Marathon Swimmer - I support the retention or upgrade of the existing 50-metre pool at Batemans Bay within the planned leisure facility plan. An Olympic sized pool in my opinion is essential for the training of talented young swimmers and to develop distance swimming endurance
The Walbunja Custodian Elders group -
We the Elders, believe that the whole of the Bay Community including members of the Aboriginal communities, would benefit greatly from a proposal to extend the current planned pool size from 25 meters to 50 metre status.
I would urge Councilors’ to talk to all of the above-mentioned stakeholders in the Eurobodalla, to inform your decision making as to what is in the best interests of the whole Batemans Bay and surrounding communities.
Returning to Councils Values, Vision Statement and Mission
I will finish by saying “I feel” that Council needs to live up to its Values, Vision Statement and Mission - In Leadership - Set a clear direction, focus attention on what is really important for the whole Batemans Bay and surrounding community, provide every opportunity to achieve success and lead by example to include a 50m pool in the 12 months of the year heated aquatic facility for the whole community in line with community expectations, democracy and the principle of social equality. ______________________________________________________________________________
Above: Coral Anderson
Good evening everyone and thank you for coming along tonight. I’m Coral Anderson, team member from Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool. I hardly know where to begin. We have been on a journey for the last six months campaigning in the hope that, on behalf of the vast majority of the community, we could change councillors’ minds to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better plan for the redevelopment of Mackay Park Precinct for the whole community. This is not about US v THEM, it’s about what’s right, what’s just and what the community wants and deserves. To pit one part of the shire against the other is very sad indeed. We have given Council and our local member Andrew Constance, all our arguments to keep the 50m pool in the mix, letters of support, evidence of affordability, we have met with them personally top lead the case on behalf of our community and kept them up to date with our engagement process.It’s not too late for our councillors to have a change of heart and I sincerely hope that they will do so sooner rather than later. Council can simply rescind the motions passed at its Extraordinary General Meeting on 29th August 2017 and start again. Better to bite the bullet now and do the right thing then to forge ahead and build a ‘white elephant’ that a majority of us do not want.Many of our councillors campaigned on a platform of accountability, transparency and inclusiveness.The mayor has stated that she will stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the community. I urge Councillors to remember their pre election promises and not take the people who voted them in for granted. Our team represents the Batemans Bay Swimming Club, St Bernards Catholic School, Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, CEO Odonata Endeavour College (professional coach and University Lecturer), Mogo Public School, public schools within the Batemans Bay area, Principal St Peters College Broulee, Eurobodalla Primary Schools Sporting Association (representing 11 member schools from Milton to Tilba, Life Member Moruya Swimming Club, Elite Energy Triathlon company, CWA Batemans Bay,CEO Swimming NSW, Broulee Surfers SLSC, Moruya SLSC, Aboriginal Elders, Batemans Bay Boars,Broulee Dolphins, as well as numerous community members who have written to local media and council – and of course, over 4,000 school children. Council’s own Draft Aquatic Strategy says of its Key Findings on page 10 that 99% of those surveyed identified swimming as their top recreation activity. The report goes on to say that 51% of those surveyed identified lap swimming as their top activity engaged in by patrons at their most used facility. The sport of swimming in Australia has the highest participation rate of all sports including football,cycling, hockey, tennis and cricket. Australia shines on the world stage in the sport of swimming at the Olympic level as well as the World Swimming Championships. This year, the Gold Coast is hosting the Commonwealth Games where Australia is expected to once again show its prominence in the pool. We are extremely well represented by those swimmers with a disability many of whom have gone on to become world champions. Swimming affords everyone the opportunity to compete at an international level regardless of their ability. And I emphasise swimming as a SPORT. We stand with Perfex and the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce in its vision for a vibrant arts/cultural facility with a larger capacity auditorium. We also stand with the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Committee and applaud their efforts over a number of years. The current concept plan just doesn’t cut it. We believe we can come up with something better that will bring us together andnot pull us apart. Our concept plan and rough costings have cost the community nothing. Council’s concept plan has cost the community in excess of $155,000 which they have paid to a consultancy firm from Queensland. We say we don’t need expensive interstate consultants, we just need to consult with the community and apply some common sense. Thank you. _________________________________________________________________________
My name is Peter Coggan from Malua Bay I am a member of the @ fight for BatemansBay's 50 m pool. How did I get involved in the fight to save Batemans Bays 50 m pool? In the summer of 2015/16 when I was Secretary of Batemans Bay Surf Life Saving Club I had a meeting with Warren Sharpe Chief Engineer at Eurobodalla Council. Warren told me that he would be writing the brief re. the new proposed Swimming Complex that would now be moved from Hanging Rock back to the site of the existing 50 m pool which would be demolished & replaced with a 25 m pool.I then argued the case to build a 50 m pool & then put him on notice that I would fight to have a 50 m pool in Batemans Bay. Fast forward to August 2017. I sent emails to mayor Liz Innes re. the importance of including a 50 m pool in the Mackay Park Complex. No replies were received. I repeated my case to the mayor & all councillors at the extraordinary COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON 29TH AUGUST LAST YEAR. NO RESPONSE. I ATTENDED THE COUNCIL MEETING & interjected from the gallery when the 2 Otium Options were presented to be voted on by 6 of our 9 councillors. We see that only a 25 m pool is included in both options The 50 m pool has already disappeared. Our community has been denied a choice. I objected from the gallery & on 2 occasions was threatened with eviction by THE MAYOR. I allege that Councillors had been misled into thinking that the Concept Plan could be changed later & that this was not a binding motion that would prevent any additions. There was indecent pressure from councils admin to push this through to meet the 4th Sept. deadline for grant applications ie.have councillors rubber stamp the motion before they were given time to give it due diligence. I sent a request to the Mayor to have this motion rescinded but that was denied. I had a report of my concern published in the Bay Post & online Post. 'Plug Pulled on 50 M Pool".It was then that I had a phone call from Maureen Searson who asked if I would like to meet & talk re. the council's decision to demolish our 50 m pool. We did meet & Coral Anderson was present and we formed the @fight for Batemans Bay 50 m pool Team. So that goes back to September last year. And we have been fighting intensely since then to save our 50 m pool.Now we need your support People Power can work wonders ref. to Broulee charcoal factory some of you will recall that fight and more recently the bat issues. You can see from the maps/plans on the screen that all we are fighting for is to include a 50 m pool in the Concept Plans. It will fit & is affordable. All other water bodies remain.
The Councils costings are allegedly inflated. ie. they state that it will cost an additional $6.5 million to build the extra 25 m & $30000 per year to run.And this is where council comes up with its affordability slogan! We challenge that. Firstly their quote is $29 to 30 million with a 25 m pool for the whole Mackay Park Complex our research with a 50 m pool is $30 to 31million. (thanks, Jon do we have an image of our quote there on the screen). Secondly, the running costs of all 3 Eurobodalla aquatic centres now is less than $300000 per year.So my stand is that this process has been totally undemocratic that stakeholders who are most frequent users or in need of a 50 m pool were not consulted & continue to be bullied into submission to accept a 25 m pool. ref. Swim Club meeting with mayor just last Monday. We understand that council is ready to issue its brief to the industry for Design Plans to be drawn up. We say include a 50 m pool in the brief so costings can be compared with the 25m pool & even a design that incorporates ie. includes the existing 50 m pool with refurbishments with other facilities added to make up the complex. At 10:30 am this morning Coral had a ph call from Mayor Liz Innes agreeing to our request to release the engineers report on the condition of the existing 50 m pool. The General Manager Dr Catherine Dale told me only on Saturday that this was " commercial in confidence" & could not be released. THIS HAS NOW PROVEN TO BE WRONG! We can only surmise how many other aspects of the Mackay Park Development have been kept secret ... this is the tip of the iceberg that exposes the council admin bullies efforts to ensure that their agenda is rubber stamped by our elected councillors. It's time now for our 9 councillors none of whom has supported Batemans Bay having a 50 m pool. They are all toeing the official position ie. only a 25 m pool. We need them on board to take our recision motion forward & replace it to include a 50 m pool as an option to be costed so then the community can see the real comparative costings. At present, the swimming community has been denied justice on this question. A 50 m pool will fit along with the other water bodies & is affordable ... we have enjoyed it for 52 years. We also need to have the costings on the other 5 water bodies that are proposed & the revised business case for the whole Complex as promised last November by Mayor Liz Innes. I would like to incorporate the last key points in a motion or motions to be carried by this meeting tonight. What can you do? Send emails to all Councillors requesting a recision of the motion of 29th August re. Otium 1. Option Concept Plan & include a 50 m pool refurbished and/or new to be drawn into plans & costed so realistic alternatives can be costed & considered in the Aquatic section of The combined Aquatic Arts Complex. $46.3 million dollar grant if successful will cover the needs of our community. A 50 m pool should be in the mix.. We understand that the mayor is offering to extend her 8 lanes 25 m pool to a 10 lane pool plus make it deeper 2.5 m to accommodate water polo enabling the grant applications to comply with the sports requirements conditions of the grants. We say include the 50 m pool & it will comply. Thank you Peter Coggan _____________________________________________________________ Following the introductions by the three key members of the group the chair, John Mobbs opened up the forum inviting those attending to have their say.
Above: some of the many speakers on the night. Below Ian Hardy of Maloneys Beach R.A
There were many well informed speakers around the room, each taking their turn to address the public meeting Each and all the speakers spoke of their support for the aquatic facilities planned and reiterated their support of those facilities being provided however each and all spoke of the loss of the 50m pool and the consequences that would bring to the community. Of interest were the following key observations: "If we are to accept the audited costings of the project that identify an additional $300,000 in running costs for a 50m pool should we not lay question to the audited figure put forward by Council that that figure alone is in excess of the collective running costs of the shires pools "
"If Council are now saying that they will consider a 10 lane 25m pool then it is that dimension that needs to be costed against a 50m pool - accurate and believable figures are required""The Disability Trust was not consulted and they are another of the primary users of the Batemans Bay Pool." A triathlon spokesperson spoke of the facility and the importance of a 50m facility that not only is required to build strength and endurance but is also well utilised by many in the region as well as Australian representatives. The 50m is vital if it is to be considered a sporting facility for sport purposes". "In a 25m pool a 4km swim would require 160 tumble turns" There were revelations about the poor condition of the Narooma Pool as per the Aquatic Strategy where there is evidence of foundation and subgrade movement which is likely to be a result changes in the ground water conditions.Initially, a leak test of the pool and pipe work and rectification of the associated leaks was recommended. The engineers report being held by Council recommends that 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. To determine if the pool shell is to be retained, it recommended that destructive testing and defect mapping be undertaken to determine the effective life left in the pool shell.With the real risk of the Narooma Pool needing to be demolished it puts at risk the Shire having a 50m pool at all. It was recognised that whilst Council carried out their assessments these were flawed in that they did not seek to establish any Pros to having a 50m pool whilst they concentrated on the Cons. It was identified that from the start management of the Precinct and the Bowling Club purchase has been inept with one speaker saying "I despair at what is going on". Several revelations were raised regarding the Sea level Rise and how it would affect the Mackay Park site inclusive of the newly proposed facilities and inevitable Bowling Club project. It was discussed that the construction should be moved as the Mackay Park site was not an ideal choice in light of rising sea levels and storm surges as so readily predicted by Council.There was discussion of the new bridge and its piers being a source of erosion as well as the fact that it appears the highway won't be raised the anticipated 1m increase in water level. While this moved on to the reconfiguration of traffic along Clyde Street and the implied corralling of the community towards the two shopping centres owned by Council superannuation there was an intervention as it was considered to be deviation from the topic. Along with questions being raised about sea level it was identified that Council had done no hydraulic surveys. the location they have is a poor one in view of their own Sea Level predictions "If Council was a company we would all be shareholders" The meeting was reminded that whoever was standing up to Council was having an influence on how they think and engage and those attending were encouraged to ... stand up. All in all it was a solid effort by the organisers to assemble so many to the meeting and to conduct it well giving respect to speakers who may have had differing opinions. The last speaker of the night did have a differing view which was that the aquatic centre had been long worked on and this was a golden opportunity to secure funds. It was explained that the save the 50m supports all of the other facilities and simply wants to see a 50m pool in the equation as well At the conclusion of the meeting, a majority of attendees expressed dissatisfaction with the way Council is handling the proposed redevelopment of MacKay Park Precinct, in particular, by not making all relevant information available to the community in a timely manner. RESOLUTIONS FROM PUBLIC MEETING: 15 FEB 2018 The following resolutions were prepared for inclusion in a submission to Council:
Council immediately amend (or rescind) Resolution PSR17/050 (below) of 29 August 2017 and that:
Council note that actions taken and work completed pursuant to previous resolution PSR17/0505 of 29 August 2017 did not include comparative evaluation of the option to retain or improve the existing Batemans Bay 50-metre pool in situ.
Council advise if alternative sites were considered for the Batemans Bay Aquatic and Arts/Cultural precinct and, if these were rejected, why?
Council halt further work and issue no further instructions or tenders on the MacKay Park precinct project until actions to address this oversight are completed.
Council Immediately release all reports and financial data relating to recent and ongoing maintenance costs for the existing 50-metre pool at Batemans Bay including, no later than the date of the next council meeting, an un-redacted and complete copy of the Structural Audit Report prepared by Brown Consulting (now Calibre Consulting), so that interested parties and the community may review the information that has led to Council deciding that the 50-metre pool must be demolished.
Council undertake comprehensive consultation with interested parties and the community, to evaluate their views on retention of the existing 50-metre pool, following release of the Calibre Consulting Structural Audit Report.
Council, following evaluation of the concerns of interested parties and the community, prepare a Business Case that compares the projected cost of its previously preferred option 1 for MacKay Park precinct with the cost of retaining and refurbishing the existing 50-metre pool, in-situ, integrated within a redesigned Regional Aquatic and Arts/Cultural precinct.
Council immediately contact the three funding bodies from which financial grants have recently been sought and request a stay of proceedings, while further community collaboration is completed within the Shire.
Council's Resolution PSR17/050 of 29 August 2017
Council endorse option 1, being the development of a regional aquatic centre, arts and cultural facility and gateway visitor centre, on the southern part of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park precinct for the purpose of seeking grant funding to construct the facility.
Council endorse option 1 to inform the detailed planning and design process for the precinct, and to inform the process of seeking to establish a public private partnership, or other procurement process, for the development of the northern part of the precinct.
In the detailed planning and design process for the aquatic centre and arts and cultural facility, Council consider the potential to expand the facility, if and when, needed into the future.
Council develop a process to ensure ongoing engagement with the community throughout the design and development phases of the facility.
Council make a decision on the potential demolition of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club building once a decision is made on the development of the Mackay Park Precinct.
Council thank the members of the Sunset Committee for their work to date in assisting with the early planning stages of the project. Statement from Mayor Liz Innes to ‘Our Town, Our Say’ meeting – 15 February 2018 I’m sorry I can’t be at the meeting tonight as I have a prior speaking commitment with the Moruya Chamber of Commerce.I want to assure you that Council is listening to the views of individuals and groups who want a 50-metre pool included in the proposed aquatic centre. However, we believe a 50-metre pool is not affordable or justified at this time. Council is proceeding with an aquatic, arts and leisure centre that meets the needs of many people and groups in our community without imposing an additional financial burden or being too costly for everyone to use. The aquatic area will include a 25-metre lap swimming pool, a warm-water therapy pool, a learn-to-swim pool, and a toddler pool, along with a children’s splash play area and waterslides. We can provide a wonderful indoor aquatic centre in a financially responsible way while still allowing for future expansion should the need in our community grow. Council resolved last year that the centre will be designed in a way that allows for future expansion.However, including a 50-metre pool in the concept would have weakened our business case,undermining the strength of our grant applications and the likelihood of securing the government funding we need to build the centre. As well as listening to the views of people who support a 50-metre pool, I am also hearingl oud and clear from people in Batemans Bay and certainly those in the south of the shire that they want Council to be financially responsible. There is absolutely no appetite in the community for the delivery of the centre to come off the back of a rate increase.Council will advertise an Expression of Interest in February as the start of a two-stage process to find an architect to design the centre. While we haven’t secured funding yet, it is important to keep the project moving ahead so that when we hear we’ve been successful with our funding applications we can be ready to start work as quickly as possible. The design principles we’ve developed for the first stage of the design tender process require architects to address future expansion opportunities.As you know, without significant government funding this project will not go ahead. We have three funding applications currently under assessment: We made it to the Stage 2 of the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund grantprogram. Council applied for $8 million. We expect to hear about progress with the NSW Regional Sports Infrastructure Fundgrant program in February. Council applied for $28.3 million. We submitted an application to the Australian Government’s Building Better RegionsFund for $10 million. Our most recent news about the project is that we are currently in discussions with the NSW Roads and Maritime Service regarding the possible leasing of the old bowling club land as a site office and equipment storage area for the construction of the new Batemans Bay bridge.In closing, I encourage you to get behind this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the government funding we need to build the Batemans Bay Arts, Aquatic and Leisure Centre.