The Editor, Your readers have been asking for sometime why did Council buy the Bowling Club site in Batemans Bay? They have asked Council for a response and received nothing of any substance other than the recent statement by the Mayor Feb 6th 2018: 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 Nov 2016 they said "Council bought the former bowling club in April with a view to partner with private developers to redevelop the bowling club and aquatic centre sites" They now admit publicly that the Public Private Partnership wasn't to be (Mackay Park Sunset Meeting Wednesday 13 th December). It was revealed that, at the Mackay Park Sunset Committee meeting in December 2017 Council staff advised those present that "RMS want the site after all and will rent it for the three to four years of the lifeof 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. Mark Hitchenson 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." Councillor Liz Innes in Nov 2016 said “With the site adjoining the existing Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre and the Mackay Park sporting grounds it forms a significant precinct in Batemans Bay and a gateway site for a whole shire.” That's a nice motherhood statement but does it justify spending $2.73m of ratepayers money without first doing a financial plan that might explain why there was no current valuation done and that paying $1.2m over the valuation of the land? Or does it make good business sense to then borrow $2m to pay for the purchase? Was that decision financially responsible with ratepayers money if only based on a pretext that there could be an opportunity for a PPP. What exactly what the justification given to the Councillors of the day for the purchase and where was the public discussion about its purchase, other than the fast, behind the scenes, decision made to purchase the land at the Council meeting on April 26th, 2016 without an agenda item to allow public discussion and with no disclosure? I have written the following letter to which I hope to receive an honest reply. The General Manager, Mayor and all Councillors Eurobodalla Shire Council
Dear Dr Dale, Mayor and Councillors
In mid 2016 Council via media releases announced council had purchased the Old Batemans Bay Bowling Club Site on behalf of the shire’s residents but never announced why it was actually purchased for a figure of $2.7 million. Apparently money was borrowed to fund the purchase.
Can council now explain to me what the reason was for the purchase, when it occurred and what is proposed for the site, or was it a speculative purchase.?
Did council have a choice about the purchase or was there a compelling reason for the purchase taking place?