In the now confirmed and endorsed Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy we learn that the preparation of an Aquatic Strategy for the Shire as a whole was a pre-requisite for the development of a business case and concept plans for the upgrading of the pool. In that same document we learn that the objectives of the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy, as set out in Council’s brief, were to: Develop an Aquatic Strategy for the Eurobodalla which will better inform the potential development of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Precinct (primarily an update of the previous 2005 Swimming Pools Strategic Review) Provide strategic justification for the proposed recreation centre at the Precinct Review the current status and planned upgrades of Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma Pools Consult with Council staff on current operating contracts and upgrade plans The preparation of this Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy encompassed the following: Inspections of all Council pools, and indoor sporting facilities (Batemans Bay) Background research Analysis of non-Council owned aquatic, indoor sport and health & fitness facilities Analysis of population profile and growth, and tourism data Review of current usage and performance Analysis of aquatic facility trends Targeted stakeholder engagement; and Strategic direction for aquatic centres. What is missing from the above is consultation - good old widespread, engaging, public consultation to the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy. Council do however claim they have consulted - you can read those claims here The ratepayers, across the shire, using all the facilities from Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma were NOT included in this Strategy at all. The first the public learnt about the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy was at an extraordinary meeting of Council in 2017 where the "strategy" was tabled as an annex used to justify (and endorse) the replacement of the Batemans Bay 50m pool with a 25m pool. That report to Council stated: 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 recommended in the draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that the three aquatic facilities in Eurobodalla Shire be positioned as follows: Batemans Bay Pool be 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 50m pool be retained to accommodate Eurobodalla Shire’s swimming carnival and event needs and Moruya Pool be retained as district level pool. These were the recommendations of Council's consultant. In a Strategy document that would affect the entire shire and require the agreement of its ratepayers. The next obvious step would be to put that opinion out to the community because it is a STRATEGY. But did Council do this? No. Instead they knowingly endorsed the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy without any true, current, public consultation. Nor did they suggest the strategy be placed on public exhibition nor did they advise the public after the event that the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy had been adopted. Their justification for not having the 50m pool was later revealed in more detail here The Beagle has established that the Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy was adopted at the extraordinary council meeting of August 2017 via the following statement made by the General Manager in a letter dated April 2018. 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. On the day of the Extraordinary meeting there were six councillors present (Innes, Pollock, Constable, Tait, Thomson and Mayne with apologies received from Councillor Brown, Councillor Nathan and Councillor McGinlay) This week the Beagle asked Councillors via an email: "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." Councillor Pat McGinlay, (the only Councillor to respond to the email and questions) offers the following: Your question to me as outlined must necessarily be hypothetical...since I was one of three out of nine councillors who were not present at the extraordinary meeting of 29 August 2017. Nevertheless, I was present at prior briefings, and watched the council proceedings of this meeting via live streaming. To my mind, council voting in favour of either of the conceptual options presented has been 'ipso facto' an acceptance of the basic premises of the report that underpinned the recommendations and options presented. The 'Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy' was clearly part of said report; ergo, to my mind I agree with the GM that it has been accepted and adopted. Perhaps it should have simply been labelled within the briefing to the consultants, as a Shire-wide service provision/environmental scan consideration, rather than a 'strategy'. Note: These are my own views and do not necessarily reflect either those of my fellow councillors nor the staff. Regards, Clr Pat McGinlay
A search of the Eurobodalla Council website reveals NO evidence of Council adopting the Draft Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy other than by 'ipso facto' inclusion of a document by that name prepared by a consultant to justify a concept plan and business case bought together by the same consultant for the Mackay Park Aquatic Centre. Day by day the issue around the prepared concept plan, the costings of construction, the costs of running the pools, the projected returns, the utilisation and the flawed assumptions are starting to show themselves. As recently as Monday night, at the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic meeting in Batemans Bay the Mayor ask one of the speakers "how many people wanted a 50 metre pool and how many might not go to the proposed centre if it only had a 25 metre pool? "I want to see numbers" was the tone. Clearly this indicates that the Mayor and Councillors do not know how many people do use the Batemans Bay 50m pool nor do they know the numbers of those who leave the shire to swim at the Ulladulla pool. Editors Note: The Aquatic Strategy states "Batemans Bay Pool Opens from September to mid-April (32 weeks)"68,260 visits per annum, which translated to an average use of 305 per day. Major markets were described as general swimming (adult fitness swimming, child casual swimming, swim club) (76%); school swimming (12%); and squad (7.3%)." By this we can assume school swimming and squad = 19.3% Then add from the Major Market of adult fitness swimming and swim club another 25.7% leaving the remaining 65% for child casual swimming we have 45% of 68,260 Which equals 30,717 visits to the pool over by people utilising the full 50m pool. that is 959 per week and an average of 137 per day. These figures were known to the Mayor as too the number of season passes to the pool most likely held by those who use the full 50m amenity. If the Mayor "wants to see numbers" she need only look at her own Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy (page 7). Many are now asking questions around these numbers and the failure of the "strategy" to advise how many people actually utilised the pool because it was in fact 50m. Added to this conundrum are questions now being asked by new consultants around the previous estimations of relative costings of different size pools. Key to the next stage of the Regional Growth Fund grant of $25m will be the provision of a Full Business Case to be submitted with project and proponent information and supporting documents and consideration in securing the grant will include, but may not be limited to: how rigorously the project has been scoped and costed by the applicant how rigorously the applicant has assessed delivery risks and treatments for these risks how the applicant proposes to maintain the project in the future Additional to that will be the community's requirement that Council provides a business case to the community that proves the community can afford to maintain such a facility knowing that the shire is already heavily burdened by constraints of rate pegging, fixed incomes and an existing infrastructure maintenance and replacement backlog. Questions are now building in the street with "How much other vital information was not provided and remains unknown to our blissfully ignorant Councillors?" and "How can they hope to present a good case to the funding authorities with such gaps in their underlying assumptions? But every cloud has a silver lining.... The now adopted Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy now endorses what the Narooma residents have long wanted to hear. The Strategy states (page 43): Narooma Swimming Centre currently has a 50m indoor pool servicing the community. Further, the Centre is proposed to be positioned as the Shire’s swimming carnival and events facility. On this basis, the need to replace the existing indoor 50m pool once it reaches the end of its useful life with another 50m enclosed pool is considered necessary. Ramp access into the pool will improve accessibility for people with disabilities, older adults and persons with an injury. An expanded concourse and spectator seating is necessary in order to better service the larger number of participants and spectators that gather for aquatic events. Funding of $350,000 for the development of leisure water is already committed. When the pool reaches the end of its useful asset life, replace with an enclosed 50m x 20m (8 lane) pool, ramp access, moveable bulkhead and new plant and expand concourse and spectator seating when the pool is eventually replaced (within Medium Term: 6 – 10 years) by the report) Both the Mayor and Councillor Constable have made solid statements around the vision for the Narooma Pool. In November 2017 Mayor Innes and Councillor Constable confirmed their support for the Narooma pool facility as the Shire’s premier swimming facility announcing that Eurobodalla Shire is working on a master plan to improve the entire Narooma inlet foreshore area that includes the swimming pool complex.. (Narooma News) The newspaper report said that "Clr Innes, after a recent visit to Narooma,even had the idea of knocking down one of the Narooma pool building walls to open the facility to the magnificent inlet views." "Clr Phil Constable said the council had invested significantly in refurbishing the Narooma pool, including a new pool bottom just in the past year, and it would continue to be the shire’s premier swimming venue.What’s more, he said he was excited about the Narooma pool’s long-term future as the council had applied for a grant for a master plan to redevelop the whole inlet foreshore area, including the pool, sports and leisure centre, town wharf, NATA Oval and visitor information centre." The report added "Clr Innes, who attended the opening of the Montague Arts and Crafts Society studio at the Narooma Men’s Shed on Saturday, said she believed the Narooma pool would continue as the shire’s premier venue for events that required a 50m facility.During a recent visit to the pool, she had a vision of knocking out the building wall that faced the inlet, which would allow pool users to take in the stunning view."
The Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy locks in the Narooma Pool as the regional 50m facility that will see it retained to continue to be "the shire’s premier swimming venue". The Mayor announced in Novemeber 2017 after Council endorsed the Strategy that "Eurobodalla Shire are working on a master plan to improve the entire Narooma inlet foreshore area that includes the swimming pool complex."