Visionaries or naysayers dressed in mediocrity
The first Batemans Bay Foreshore committee meeting will be held tonight to begin the discussions of what might be set in place and achieved for the revamp of the Clyde River foreshore as a result of the new bridge. The scope of the focus by the committee will be centred from North Street to the upstream side of the new bridge on the southern side and the rework of the northern side. For those not aware here is a ducks guts overview. The off ramp from the current bridge into the CBD will be removed. If you want to go to Clyde Street in the CBD from the new bridge you will have to go via North Street. This will have an immediate impact on those shops who rely on the off ramp tourist traffic who park, explore, have fish and chips, and take in the Clyde waterfront. Tourists will have to know to go down North Street to access the foreshore – if they go down Beach Road they can’t turn left into Orient as it is one way. Basically this forewarns that there will be a marked drop in tourism along Clyde Street.
Above: No off ramps of the new bridge to either side of Clyde Street - go via North and Clyde instead
The next big Whammy is no right turn off the bridge to the boat ramp on the south side. This boatramp has been progressively bought up to an excellent standard by the Better Boating funding that comes from boating and trailer registrations. This boatramp is a regional ramp that provides access to those who wish to stay around the bridge or venture upstream towards Nelligen. Though it has toilet facilities it does not have well designed capacity for cars and boat trailers. The boatramp opposite on the northern shore is not at all suitable for launching motorised boats and serves as a kayaking and sailing boat area with sand. The reality for those wishing to use the boatramp on the southern side is that they will have to access it via North Street and then along Clyde Street to pass under the new bridge. Council have recently carried out works to expand the carparking at the Nelligen boatramp. While they might believe this is providing a solution the distance to travel is substantial, especially for those who wish to remain around the bridge area. What might be an outcome is that the Bridge Boatramp is removed altogether and boaters told to go to Hanging Rock. It is not known as yet what the clearance of this underpass will be however it must be able to accommodate a semi trailer or removalist van and certainly a large garbage truck Those wanting to access the western section of Clyde Street will also find they need to detour via North Street and Clyde Street as the off ramp will not be built as there are mangroves there to consider with the new bridge location. Those businesses on the western side of the bridge will be isolated to the passing tourist traffic and the accommodation providers, the oyster hut and others will all have to access their properties via North Street and Clyde Street. The interstate buses will also have to access the CBD area via North Street. Last heard they too will have to go under the new bridge to then turn around and come back to their bus bay outside of Innes Boatshed.
Above: Buses will either have to go all the way to turn around or, as has been suggested by the Mayor, valuable Clyde Street foreshore carparking will have to go to provide a bus turning circle. The terms of reference for the foreshore committee include working with Council’s Batemans Bay CBD plan however there is no concrete plan to work with nor is there a report on the impact to traffic flow of the new bridge on the CBD and the financial consequences to Clyde Street businesses. Of concern is the added fact that there will be no on ramp from Clyde Street onto the highway heading south which means that semi trailers delivering to the Bridge Plaza will have to trundle along Clyde Street and exit the CBD via North Street, if able to make that turn, or via the recently streetscaped Orient Street.
So what can the foreshore committee achieve? The foreshore belongs to the Crown and not Council so anything proposed will have to be agreed to by the Crown however anything built will have to be maintained and renewed by Council to which there is no budget established and all future funding will have to be derived from other crown land reserves such as Hanging Rock, the Bay Resort and Corrigans of which Council is required to spend such monies locally to those reserves. There will no doubt be decisions also made by foreshore committee on jetties, pontoons, parking and facilities that will all directly impact on the adjacent businesses and also on the pockets of ratepayers who will be the ones covering the costs. It is already understood that areas within Council are adamant they do not want a floating pontoon installed yet that is the very thing that the business chamber have identified as being required to facilitate visiting cruise boats and improving the accessibility of the river. One party is looking at it from ownership, responsibility, budget and aesthetics while the other parties are looking at the tourism potential, the functionality and the potential such a pontoon provides. So there will be interesting discussions tonight and hopefully a few visionaries in the room; however based on past committees and past history the naysayers holding the purse strings with their blinkered views that mostly pander to mediocrity will prevail by rhetorically saying what will happen and then celebrate by ticking a big box called "public consultation". As yet there is no evidence that Council has seriously broached the financial and social impact that the bridge will have on the Batemans Bay CBD foreshore and its businesses. What was observed by past actions of Council was that businesses in the CBD are fragile and were barely, if able to sustain during the streetscaping work on Clyde, North and Orient Streets as Council continually went overtime with their schedules causing direct hardship to businesses reliant on the merest of takings to see them survive. The impact of the new bridge is unmeasured.