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Mackay Park pool meeting roundup

For those not able to attend the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee meeting that was held last night at the Catalina Club. The meeting was held at 5.30pm to allow more people to attend after work with guest speakers t including Eurobodalla’s Mayor Liz Innes, and Directors from ESC Lindsay Usher and Kathy Arthur. The general public were invited to come along to learn the status of the proposed Mackay Park performance and aquatic centre. In all thirty eight attended with the meeting chaired by Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee president Carolyn Harding. Attending the meeting were also community members who support a 50m pool and others who support the Our Town Our Say movement that is placing a considerable focus on informing and returning a voice to the Batemans Bay community on all manner of issues.

The meeting generally stated that Batemans Bay Pool is hardly used. It was reiterated that seven schools were sent letters and that they supported a 25m pool. The Chair maintained that schools had been consulted and had never replied or turned up at Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee meetings . This assertion was questioned, specifically in reference to eleven schools not being informed that a 50 m pool would not be included in the new complex and the existing one removed. Mayor Liz Innes took on notice the request to inform the community the costs of building & running a) a 25 m pool b) a refurbished existing 50 m pool c) a new 50 m pool to enable comparative costings NOTE: Though these costs have already been requested with a directive by Member for Bega Andrew Constance to then be provided to the community Mayor Innes has stated elsewhere that they will be provided following the confirmation of the next stage of the Grant application. Many believe that it will all be too late by then. Of interest was the revelation by the Mayor that Council has spoken to Moruya SLSC and discussed building a 50m sea pool. Also of interest was the comment by Director Usher stating that council had been consulting with the Batemans Bay Swim Club and looking to solve /accommodate storage issues adding that the Club could be viable with a 25 m pool Though without any qualification and much to the surprise of the Save the 50m pool members Council’s Director Kathy Archer commented that even if a 50m pool is available schools prefer to use a 25m pool to conduct carnivals. Both Carolyn Harding and Mayor Innes supported the comment with their own comments that the Batemans Bay pool users have not shown much interest in the 50m v 25m debate. Mayor Liz Innes maintained that a 50 m Pool was unaffordable and supported Carolyn Harding who stated that only a small percentage of swimmers used the 50 m pool and very few carnivals were held in it so users could travel to Ulladulla or Narooma Peter Bernard, resident of Dalmeny, had driven up to raise the question of the site being a flood zone and water table affected advising that the area was unsuitable for a project of this magnitude. When asked about Gareth Ward Kiama MP supporting the Bomaderry community to keep their 50m pool from being replaced with a 25m pool, Mayor Innes replied that his decision was political and the Shoalhaven community would “carry the cost burden for a very long time”. The pleasantries of the meeting were removed when Mayor Innes accused the Fight for 50 m Pool Group as being destructive and that their comments on social media threatened the grant application process. This was challenged as being unfair & unsubstantiated

During question time President Caroline Harding was asked what she thought about filling the vacancy on the sunset committee with a member of the swimming community as had been openly and publicly suggested by Councillor Anthony Mayne at the last Council meeting. Caroline replied that she thought it would be unproductive adding “I can fulfill that role”. It was then offered from the floor “You’ve only had four meetings, it wouldn’t be hard to catch up. How many of the current sunset committee members have attended all meetings?” She said ‘Most’ to which there was disagreement again from the floor. As a member of the Sunset committee she was also asked if the public could come along to the sunset committee meetings to which the answer was NO. Then followed the matter of ‘community engagement’ by the sunset committee noting “That was on the agenda about a year ago but appears not to have been addressed yet.” Of concern to many was the mention by the Mayor of flying Otium consultants down from Queensland for further consultation. The Mayor was asked "how much is that going to cost the community and how can it be justified?" The Beagle reporter observed that the mayor interrupted on several occasions and for a while there it looked as if she had assumed the position of the Chair however it is noted that Caroline Harding was gracious and allowed free debate.

Above: a post meeting round-table debrief by some of those who attended. Photo by The Beagle roving reporter

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