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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Does this pass the pub test? Not on your nelly

Batemans Bay has been TOLD it will not have a 50m pool - final - done, no further conversation. That decision was made it appears at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 29 August 2017 with no public consultation at all based on the opinion of a consultant who was commissioned to draft the aquatic strategy which, in their opinion, said Batemans Bay didn't need a 50m pool. End of story. The first the community knew about the Draft Aquatic Strategy was at that Council meeting and its agenda. Even after the meeting the community still had no idea that the draft Aquatic Strategy that they had no input into had been endorsed. Even the Councillors claim they had no idea. Did they known at the time and said nothing knowing it would go through and totally bypass the community? When council were formally asked via a letter to the Mayor dated 9 March 2018 " hen will Otium be advised that its draft 2017 Aquatic Strategy has indeed been accepted and ratified by Council?" the general manager responded with:

Answer. "The preparation of an Aquatic Strategy was a requirement of the brief, as was the preparation of an Assessment of Preferrerd Arts and Cultural Facilities, to inform the business case and concept plan. "As per standard practice, Council was briefed on the strategies and they were presented to Council as drafts at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 29 August 2017. As Council made a decision to endorse a concept plan option at that meeting, no further work was required to be undertaken to the draft Aquatic Strategy and it is therefore deemed to have been finalised."

Above: from a letter signed by General Manager Catherine Dale on April 17th 2018.

In the agenda of the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 29 August 2017 it states in part: In January 2017, Council engaged Otium Planning Group, with the assistance of FDG Architects, Outside the Square Creative Consultants, MRCagney and Turner Townsend Quantity Surveyors, to prepare the following:  Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy The consultant has not recommended a 50m pool be provided at Mackay Park for the following reasons:  A 50m pool is inconsistent with the draft aquatic strategy for the Eurobodalla Shire, which positions the Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre as the ‘program and aquatic leisure centre’ and the Narooma Pool as Eurobodalla Shire’s ‘event and competition swimming centre’.  A 50m pool will cost approximately $6m more to construct and up to $300,000 per annum more to operate.  There is a limited market for a 50m pool when compared to the strong demand for recreation and program/therapy pool space, given the ageing population of Eurobodalla Shire and the family tourist market.  Given the cost and space limitations, it is highly likely that much higher use/commercially viable water space may be sacrificed to include a 50m pool at Mackay Park.  A 25m by eight lane pool can adequately service the training needs of swim club members and lap swimmers, and can also hold short course competitions. Otium Planning Group presented the draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy, assessment of preferred arts and cultural facilities and a draft concept plan to Council and the Sunset Committee on 2 and 3 May 2017, respectively. Based on an assessment of the condition of existing aquatic facilities in Eurobodalla Shire, population and tourist demographics and projections, stakeholder engagement and current trends and best practice in the delivery of aquatic facilities, the consultant recommends in the draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that the three aquatic facilities in Eurobodalla Shire be positioned as follows: Batemans Bay Pool Program and aquatic leisure centre A contemporary leisure centre facility mix featuring different programs, leisure, fitness and adventure water options, health and fitness facilities, retail, food and beverage and co-location with visitor information centre, community and arts and cultural facilities. Narooma Pool Event and competition swimming centre Enclosed 50m pool retained to accommodate Eurobodalla Shire’s swimming carnival and event needs. Moruya Pool Retain as district level pool Future development does not conflict with, or duplicate, the Batemans Bay and Narooma aquatic facilities. The Extraordinary Council Meeting on 29 August 2017 moved 17/284 THAT:

1. Council endorse option 1, being the development of a regional aquatic centre, arts and cultural facility and gateway visitor centre, on the southern part of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park precinct for the purpose of seeking grant funding to construct the facility. 2. Council endorse option 1 to inform the detailed planning and design process for the precinct, and to inform the process of seeking to establish a public private partnership, or other procurement process, for the development of the northern part of the precinct. 3. In the detailed planning and design process for the aquatic centre and arts and cultural facility, Council consider the potential to expand the facility, if and when, needed into the future. 4. Council develop a process to ensure ongoing engagement with the community throughout the design and development phases of the facility. 5. Council make a decision on the potential demolition of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club building once a decision is made on the development of the Mackay Park Precinct. 6. Council thank the members of the Sunset Committee for their work to date in assisting with the early planning stages of the project. AT NO POINT IN THE ABOVE MOTION DOES IT SAY THAT COUNCIL ADOPTS THE DRAFT AQUATIC STRATEGY. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of Council's strategies go out for public consultation. They always have, they always will. So why not this one as it is THE Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that affects all ratepayers? In the history of Eurobodalla Council when has a contractor ever written a strategy affecting the community's assets and facilities, a strategy that affects its priorities, its budget and the future planning of those assets and facilities and then have it endorsed with NO public consultation without a mention of doing so and as nothing more that an attachment to a report? Never.

Above: no caption required

Editor Update: Councillors have now been individually emailed the following: Councillor,

Were you informed by staff in the briefings that by endorsing the Concept Plan Option you were in fact also endorsing the Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy? If you were fully aware .... does that mean you were therefore also aware that you were endorsing a Strategy that had NOT been put out for consultation to the community; especially knowing that the Draft spelt the end of the 50m pool in Batemans Bay. No doubt you have been made aware that there is a newly appointed consultant looking at the costings put forward by Otium and raising concerns about them. If the business Plan and Costings are under question, as they now are, does this also indicate that the assumptions by a single consultant, with no community consultation, commissioned to produce an aquatic strategy, might also be in error and that your apparent endorsement without open and transparent public consultation has denied the community any input into the final determinations. So I ask - did you knowingly endorse the Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy as stated by the General Manager in her response to Mr Mobbs? the draft Aquatic Strategy .. is therefore deemed to have been finalised. Yes or No ? A non response to this email will be regarded as an affirmative. .............. We will keep you posted of responses.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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