Regional Growth fund to be under scrutiny as they assess BBay pool Full Business Case
Council have now introduced the Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre and Performance Space architects to the community via a two day round of forums allowing each focus group to look over three concept plans and offer their comments. With that information on board the architects will now go back and formulate a final plan. This plan, once endorsed by the Council and community can then be costed enabling a Full Business Plan, as required by the Federal Government, to be prepared. Council needs to complete a Full Business Case with all required supporting documentation to support the $25m application to substantiate claims and/or statements, and to verify the capacity of your organisation to deliver the project. They have only three months from the date of the letter from the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development, to submit the Full Business Case. It is not known what date the letter has however it can be assumed that the stopwatch has commenced. Detailed cost estimates are now required at this stage to be included as part of the Project Management Plan and evidence of the project cost estimates must be provided as supporting documentation (e.g.cost estimate, quotes, market comparisons, valuations, quantity surveyor report, etc.). An Asset Maintenance/Management Plan must also be provided as part of the Project Management Plan, and include evidence of how Council will maintain and operate the completed asset for a minimum of five (5) years after construction. construction. These figures will also be required to include a Cash Flow Forecast with yearly breakdown of costs for ongoing operational and maintenance and include evidence of third party leasing arrangements such as for the proposed kiosk and gymnasium. Should the Council qualify the grant agreement states that the project must be ready to commence within 12 weeks of executing the Grant Agreement considering commencement to be taking steps to allow construction to commence with acquittal of the project by 30 June 2022. Key considerations that will be considered as part of the Full Business Case 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. What is NOT being assessed in the Full Business Plan is whether the project has the unequivocal support of the community and can actually be afforded by the community without intergenerational finacial burden. One thing that is glaringly missing from the Federal Government's Full Business case is evidence that the community can actually afford to maintain such a facility. Even at a basic state the business plan seen to date indicates a projected loss of around $2m per year for the first ten years based on highly questionable incomes. Any loss has to be borne by the ratepayer and this facility might well see an already stretched community stretched even more coming off the back of a 22% Special Rate Variation that was justified by saying there was an a infrastructure backlog. If the Federal Government fails to factor the possible burden and hardship of a predominantly fixed income community to afford to maintain this gifted facility then they have failed to consider the community as a whole rather than simply those who might enjoy the ammenity. A bit more on the 50 vs 25 metre pool It is reassuring to learn that the reassessed costs of construction and the running costs of the facility will be available once the new consultant finalises the plans. The long term justification of the removal of the 50m pool with only a 25m replacement has been based around figures that are now coming under considerable scrutiny. The Full Business Plan will require an accuracy and accountability that to date has not been present with the earlier figures released that came with a warning of not being used when pursuing a grant. Further, once the preferred design option and financial modelling has been approved and finalised, an assessment of the economic impact of the facility SHOULD be undertaken by Council to support any applications for external funding. Source: Aquatic and Arts/ Cultural Precinct Business Case (page 38) There are still many in the community dismayed at the loss of the town's 50m pool with the project providing only a 25m replacement. Serious competitions require Olympic standards and we don’t have a current complying facility in our shire. Otium advised against including a 50 metre (Olympic) pool in the proposed development due to limited demand. More and more questions go unanswered as the community comes to learn of the decision. Questions such as "Are councillors aware that already lane access is restricted to certain periods of the day to permit lap swimming? Have councillors satisfied themselves that such restrictions would not hinder patronage nor produce exacerbated problems in Batemans Bay due to the higher population relative to Moruya and Narooma?" Will such speculation and the uncertanty of patronage have an effect on visitation and therefore projected incomes? This is should be a pertinent factor in determining demand but seems to have been overlooked. It is stated that a 50 metre (Olympic) pool was unaffordable, requiring a larger building footprint. That is not the case as has been advised by professional designers who show how a 50 metre (Olympic) pool can fit along with all other proposed features. Are councillors aware of alternate layouts showing such an inclusion? If not, have they requested alternatives to the Otium design? If an Olympic size pool is included, then the 25 metre pool could be reduced in width from the 10 lanes proposed as it would not be required for lap swimmers/short course competitions. And what of the Narooma 50m pool’s future? The issues mentioned relative to the condition of the existing Batemans Bay pool are not dissimilar to those mentioned in the various consultants’ reports for the Narooma pool. Does it follow in line with the demand and expense arguments, that when Narooma’s pool can no longer be viably repaired, will it face replacement with a 25 metre facility? If not and if councillors have accepted de facto the draft Aquatic Strategy prepared by Otium as we have now learnt, it should be made clear loudly and clearly which parts of the draft are to be selectively adopted and which are not especially when apparently contravening conclusions would be drawn and following the GM’s assertion that it is the council not Otium who makes the decisions. It is suggested by Otium, in the absence of any other 50 metre pool in the shire, that the Narooma pool could be used for carnivals and events. Not so, the pool and surrounds are inadequate – it is only 6 lanes wide and has very limited space for spectators. Because the distance from the most populous parts of the shire is greater than the drive to Ulladulla, more serious users than those already will opt to leave our shire for decent facilities and associated quality coaching.