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Council staff are now in charge with councillors well and truly in the dark

The Editor. In 2016 when Council announced it had purchased the Old Bowling Club Site with much fanfare by the Mayor and other Councillors the shires community was told it was acquired for the benefit of the shires residents and ratepayers. It was even implied a development on the site would occur to compliment the proposed new swimming pool aquatic centre complex, leaving an expectation in the community something would occur fairly quickly. The New Batemans Bay Bridge idea and the RMS taking control of the site was not mentioned during the fanfare of the new ownership announcement. From discussions and public announcements from Council about the site that have occurred to date it would appear council has no idea why it was actually purchased or what will occur any time soon as far as community expectations with the site go. The purchase appears to have been speculative only, leaving the shire's ratepayers and residents to pay for election promises that won’t be delivered it seems. The most likely short term financial outcome for the shires residents with the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site will be some sort of lease agreement to potentially cover considerable interest costs until someone is found who’ll agree to some sort of development arrangement that supports Council’s Concept ideas of 29 August 2017. As recently as March 7 council, in correspondence, claim they have a concept plan for the Mackay Park precinct including the Bowling Club Site which was purchased for $2.7 million. The correspondence also claims that by the Minutes of the 29 August 2017 meeting Council resolved to proceed with the development of a Regional Aquatic Centre, Arts and Cultural Facility and Gateway Visitor Centre , on the southern part of the precinct for the purpose of seeking grant funding to construct the facility.

Above: Council's correspondence as at March 7th, 2018 Note that the response from Council above was to a letter sent on March 1st requesting the following: 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?

Having read the questions I now invite you read the Council's response above once more. Do you consider that to be a satisfactory response to some very pointed questions. In the March 7th letter there was no mention of the RMS using any of the area at any time or acquiring it by compulsion as was revealed by a Council staff member at the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tourism meeting nor was there any mention of the General Manager now advising councillors that there is an intention to sell the land. It's very likely the mention of the RMS taking full control of the bowling club site, as in ownership, is just imagination at this point. But Council could be hoping that does occur in an attempt to put some fires out of their own making. Management of the what's occurring with the Mackay Park precinct planning and plans so far is pathetic, we must say. Strategy - Strategic = overall plan, art of planning war, advantageous. What is advantageous about owning the block when no one as a partner showed any interest. Now the strategy includes reselling in the not so distant future it’s claimed. The emailed questions of March 1st that led to the reply haven’t been actually answered. An old idea of several years ago has been included in the reply. Evidence to support the acquisition hasn’t been provided. Two of the councillors at the time when asked why the purchase was agreed to responded by say “we had no choice” but never elaborated on that. There is also the question around the General Manager pressing the Councillors to offer $2.7m rather than the $2.2m they were more agreeable to. Forward planning for the Batemans Bay area doesn’t seem to have included the need to purchase the “Strategic” site though. It seems our council at the present time isn’t prepared to tell the truth just yet about the “We Had No Choice Purchase” one councillor at the time remarking “we are sitting on a gold mine”. For now all that can be honestly said, it was a speculative purchase. The allegation with that likely being to save at least one persons backside because of promises made that some people believed were made with authority. It’s a long way off being resolved. Allan Brown



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