The Beagle Editor,
The following is a summary of our (Our Town, Our Say members) who attended the recent Batemans Bay Swimming Club meeting compiled for those who were unable to attend. (Please note that the comments below in “red italics” are editorial comments made by members of Our Town Our Say of the meeting.) Attendees: Members of the Batemans Bay Swimming Club committee, chaired by President Jeni McCarthy; Council Director of Planning Lindsay Usher and Chief Engineer Director Warren Sharpe; General Manager Catherine Dale, Mayor Liz Innes; Members of the BB Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee; team members from Fight for Batemans Bays 50m pool as well as two children from the swimming club. An Overview: Swimming Club’s preference is for a 50m Olympic sized swimming pool to be retained in Batemans Bay. They would not travel to Narooma. Currently travelling to Ulladulla. The Club has been fundraising for over 20 years and this money has been put back into facilities at the current swimming complex. Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Complex (BBIACC) president Carolyn Harding again confirmed its position that they would also prefer a 50m pool in the Mackay Park Precinct Development. Fight for Batemans Bay 50m Pool team also confirmed its position ie a preference for a 50m pool to be retained in the mix. On that they were all in agreement. Swimming club members questioned whether lap swimmers would get a look in, in a 25m pool in the planned aquatic facility, because the lived experience of parents who travel to Ulladulla is the lap swimmers are excluded from swimming because the space in the 25m pool is inadequate. A swimming club member was very concerned that if Batemans Bays 50m pool was demolished and replaced with a 25m pool, the community would say goodbye to a 50m pool forever. This was confirmed by the Mayor.
The Mayor again insisted that an ocean pool anywhere from Batemans Bay to Broulee would compensate for the loss of Batemans Bays 50m pool for SLSC's to do the necessary endurance training for ocean rescues.
The mayor repeated the Council position that it is unaffordable for a 50m pool to be included but said that at the design stage, Council would make sure that provision would be made for expansion in the future. A question from one of the Swimming Club members was in relation to the condition of the Narooma pool. It was subsequently revealed that the Narooma pool is actually in a worse condition than the Bateman Bay’s swimming pool according to Otium’s report. It has signs of rust which could indicate that it has concrete cancer – a major problem. Readers may like to know that, in formulating the Draft Aquatic Strategy for Council in February 2017, Otium in fact reported the following: “The upgraded program also addresses the advanced age of the pools and the associated asset maintenance issues – particularly with respect to the Narooma Indoor Pool.” The recommended upgrade/ redevelopment proposals for each pool included: “Batemans Bay · Structural audit of existing pool shell to determine remaining life expectation (since completed) · Develop an integrated leisure centre at Hanging Rock Reserve (subject to review of site potential in Master Planning) (since completed in 2013) · Integrated leisure centre comprising 50m x 8 lane outdoor pool, indoor program/ leisure pool, existing single court (potential expansion to 2 courts), café, administration area, gym, program space, crèche and potential later inclusion of 25m indoor pool.” A mere snip at an estimated capital cost of $7.6 million ! Curiously, the public has yet to be informed about the outcome of the “structural audit of existing pool shell”.
Helpfully, Warren Sharpe did quote some statistics about past water losses and the type of chemical filler pumped into a void below the pool, but the team is awaiting delivery of that Structural Audit Report, (having made repeated requests for it) in order to be confident that all of the reliable facts are available. Wow! “50m x 8 lane outdoor pool” What happened to that ?? (Moruya recommendations have been omitted here) “Narooma · Demolish existing facility. · Develop indoor program/ leisure pool and associated facilities (e.g. café) · Develop 50m x 8-lane pool in tank of existing indoor pool. · Provide for future expansion of dry facilities.” And this for the princely sum of $6.52 million. Yep. Narooma pool certainly has problems too. But wait...there’s more ! “The upgrades proposed for Moryua [sic] and Narooma were for use of the existing sites, however for Batemans Bay the report suggested demolishing the existing facility and rebuilding at Hanging Rock Recreation Reserve (subject to a detailed site master planning process).” Many a slip twixt cup and the lip, folks !
In summary the good news is that the “power machine” behind Councillors‘ decision to demolish Batemans Bays 50 m pool with limited collaboration & consultation on 29th August last year was in place at the Swim Club Meeting at the Batemans Bay Pool. The bad news is “the machine “ held strong & reinforced its resolve to bulldoze Batemans Bays 50 m pool & replace it with a 25 m pool & in the event of Narooma’s pool deteriorating further build a new 50 m pool at Narooma .
Chief Engineer Warren Sharpe, now understood to be the author of the brief to eliminate Batemans Bay 50 m pool, stated that it would not make sense to invest $46.3 million around the old pool. He did not provide any facts from existing engineers’ reports regarding the true condition of either the Narooma pool nor the Batemans Bay pool except to warn that both have the same issues . The community is still waiting for the release of these reports promised months ago so realistic decisions can be made regarding the future of the existing 50 m pool by comparing costs with a new 25m pool & a new 50 m pool . Until this happens the decision not to have a 50 m pool at Batemans Bay cannot be countenanced.
An interesting scramble occurred when a questioner stated that it was good to have the
decision makers /the power group who took away our 50 m pool all present tonight . Lindsay Usher, Catherine Dale & Warren Sharpe of Council quickly declared that they were not in that group & ducked for cover leaving Mayor Innes to give us a lecture that this was actually the role of the 9 Councillors including herself. All power to our Councillors ! Three cheers ! The Mayor added some new information :
1. that the six proposed new water bodies would cost $500000 per year to run plus an extra $300000 if we were to get a 50 metre instead of a 25 m pool . That’s $800000 per annum .
2. that a netted 50 m sea pool was being considered for Batemans Bay (site unknown)
This sounded like a red herring !
3. a 10 Lane 25m pool with seating for spectators was now likely plus storage to placate the Swim Club
The Swim Club reiterated that it was launching a drive to build membership since a perceived decline had occurred in light of the pool being demolished & open only for 6 months .
Batemans Bay /Ulladulla joint Club was a likely outcome if a 50 m pool was not built.
BBIACC apologised for misrepresenting the Swim Club & now understood that the Swim Club parents were travelling to & from Ulladulla Pool for training when BBIACC meetings were held . BBIACC promised to assist the Swim Club in setting up again after the new complex was built. Both stated that they wanted a 50 m pool in the new complex. Hope that brings everyone up to date Our Town Our Say
Above: from left John Mobbs, Maureen Searson, Paul Searson, Peter Coggan, Coral Anderson