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50m pool stalemate not good for the community or democracy

Dear Beagle Editor,

Eurobodalla community members have been asked, in various surveys since Mackay Park Precinct became the site of the proposed Aquatic/Arts facility, if they would support an indoor heated year-round facility with ‘lap pool’, hydrotherapy, learn to swim and splash park. The answer has always been an unequivocal yes. But what we can only conclude to be a strategic omission, is whether the ‘lap pool’ would be 50 metres or 25 metres.

For those who are not aware the following is Council’s option -

~ An indoor heated year-round aquatic facility with hydrotherapy, learn to swim, splash park etc with a 25-metre pool

The following options were never included in Council’s surveys or questionnaires about our preferences for an Aquatic facility-

~ An indoor heated year-round aquatic facility with hydrotherapy, learn to swim, splash park etc with a 50-metre pool

~ An indoor heated year-round aquatic facility with hydrotherapy, learn to swim, splash park etc with a 25-metre pool and a refurbished/rebuilt outdoor 50 metre pool to be opened in summer/all year

Presenting these options to the community would have been democratic and a reflection of Council’s "Vision" to support the community by "excellence in community government.”

According to consultants Otium “While the primary demand is for a year-round, heated facility in Batemans Bay, a 50-metre pool is sought by some in order to support carnivals, high level training and swim squad/ club activities.”

MC at the recent Our Town Our Say public meeting John Mobbs, has pointed out in his letter to Mayor Innes and Councillors, it is more rather than some people who support a 50-metre pool. Fight for Batemans Bays 50m Pool has a brief gathered and updated from September last year, containing letters of support from groups and individuals who support a 50-metre pool. This brief was sent to Mayor Innes, all Councillors, Andrew Constance MP and Ann Sudmalis MP. For Mayor Innes and Council staff to continue to say otherwise is contemptible.

On Eurobodalla Council’s website you will find –

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.

Both 50 metre pool supporters Shire wide and Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Committee want the same thing…a visionary Aquatic/Arts facility for the future that will bring babies, centenarians and families together to enjoy hydrotherapy, learn to swim and water play, participate in the swimming club and school swimming carnivals, attract country swimming championships, create jobs and attract visitors particularly winter visitors for the much needed economic benefits. Our points of difference are the replacement of the 50-metre pool with a 25-metre pool and Council’s ‘consultation’ process.

It is not in anyone’s interest to continue in a situation of stalemate, where some Council staff are, what we can only conclude without contrary evidence, holding the power, where some Councilors refuse to listen to the community and groups supporting the Aquatic/Art facility are in conflict. This situation undermines the community’s trust in Council, is to the detriment of Local democracy in Local Government and does not reflect Council’s own “Values” of Integrity, Fairness, Empathy and Excellence - very commendable values, but not on display on this issue.

At Monday evening’s BBIAC meeting Mayor Innes was asked for clarification of the cost of the total aquatic works which appeared to be in the order of $6-8 million, but difficult to read due to the illegible document in the concept plan. If this is the case. how can Council continue to claim that an “additional” 25 metres to complete a 50 metre pool would cost $6.5 million? Mayor Innes was asked again, to take on notice, the community’s request from four months ago, for comparative costings for a 25 metre pool and a 50 metre pool. This information is still to be released.

It is difficult to understand how, whoever it is in Council that is making the decisions about what information is given to whom in the community, can be comfortable with and accepting of this stalemate between Council and many in the community, knowing that so many ratepayers and community members are offside.

Maureen Searson

Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool

#Opinion #BatemansBay

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