In truth or Council’s reality?

Dear Beagle Editor,

Eurobodalla Council decision makers have over the last 9 months, continued to ‘sow the seeds of doubt’ in the public’s mind about community support and need for a 50m pool in the Mackay park aquatic/arts centre in Batemans Bay.

In Council’s reality their ‘preferred’ consultant Otium, costed a 50m pool to be $6.5 million ‘extra’ in building costs and $300,000 ‘extra’ in running costs. In truth there are no comparative costings between a 25m pool and the existing 50m pool or between a 25m pool and a new 50m pool that Council has made public. Advice given regarding running costs from aquatic construction companies, is that it is difficult to know the running costs of any size water body until the design is finalised and decisions have been made about the pumping system.

Below is correspondence (Monday 9th April) from an aquatic construction company in NSW with indicative costings from other historical projects completed by the company comparing a 10 lane 25m pool with an 8 lane 50 m pool -

10 Lane/ 25m Pool:

  • Dimensions: 25m (L) x 25m (W)

  • Total Area = 625m2

  • Indicative Volume = 1,563m3

  • 10 Lanes at 2.5m lane width

  • Total length 25m

  • Indicative price $3.9m - $4.1m

8 Lane/ 50m Pool

  • Dimensions: 50m (L) x 20m (W)

  • Total Area = 1000m2

  • Indicative Volume = 2,500m3

  • 8 Lanes at 2.5m lane width

  • Total length 50m

  • Indicative price $3.9m - $4.1m

If the above figures are the case where does this leave Council’s decision to replace the 50m pool with a 25m pool because, in Council’s words, ‘we can’t afford a 50m pool’?

Council’s visits to other aquatic centres supports Council’s case for a 25m pool. Council state: The manager of Sutherland Shire pool advised Council, saying his preference was always for a 25m pool. In truth the manager also added - ‘I also made clear that my opinion was based on the economics of it with no real regards for the communities needs and wants but that would need to be considered’. Council state: The 50m pool gets little use at Ulladulla Leisure Centre even in summer because people prefer the indoor 25m heated pool according to Council. In truth the outdoor 50m pool is ‘packed’ over summer with swim squad, swimmers, kids and some swimming carnivals.

Question: Why does Council have no real regard or consideration for the communities wants and needs in relation to the size of the lap pool?

The community ‘engagement’ process the Mayor and council power brokers have engaged in, to justify the removal of the 50m pool fails scrutiny. It has been secretive, exclusionary, misleading. For example, the recent class action Code of Conduct complaint regarding the abuse of the Mayoral Minute was raised as it is believed that the Minute was used to silence community dissent about the 50m pool…’to get the issue off the table once and for all.’ As is Council’s unjustified rejection of a community member's request to make public Council’s grant application to the NSW Office of Sport.

In truth an ‘FOI’ request by another community member garnered advice from the Office of Sport that ‘the public is entitled to be given a copy of those documents – with some (apparently) minor redactions of certain personal information and the details of some costs associated with the provision of a service.’ Yet Council’s reality says otherwise. Why the secrecy? Why the refusal?

Misleading the community with a selective ‘consultation’ process, where Council evaded its responsibility to engage the community with a survey to justify the removal of the 50m pool is contemptable. We know there was community input regarding the other water bodies that will be built. Why did Council never conduct a survey (easy enough to do) asking for community feedback about the size of the lap pool they were planning in the aquatic/arts centre?

Why does Council want to build a lap pool with no real regard for the communities needs and wants? A recent poll found that only 6% of responders support a 25m pool while 94% support a 50m pool. To date an ongoing Survey Monkey shows that only 11.16% of responders support an indoor 25m pool, 33.77% of responders support an indoor 50m pool and 54.08% of responders support an outdoor 50m pool sitting alongside the aquatic/arts centre.

It is a simple truth. The community does not support a 25m pool lap pool in the aquatic/art centre because - it will exclude groups and individuals; is a huge backward step for Batemans Bay and the northern end of Eurobodalla Shire with over 80 percent of the population; will not cater for the future of swimming eg for children to graduate from the learn to swim pool to a 50m pool to become competent and confident swimmers; is not in the best interest of the whole community presently or in the future.

In truth, how can the community support a process that was and continues to be secretive, misleading and lacking transparency, was not inclusive and condoned the abuse of a Mayoral Minute during a Council meeting to shutdown community discussions about the 50m pool? We are not stupid! Stop treating us with contempt!

Maureen Searson

Fight for Batemans Bays 50m Pool


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