Whilst the announcement, by the NSW Government, of a new concrete traffic bridge to replace the iconic steel bridge across the Clyde River at Batemans Bay has met with broad approval, there are many community members who decry the present lack of detailed information.
These are concerned residents who live and often operate over, under, around or near the existing bridge and they are concerned about the unseen and ill-defined effects that the new bridge may create. The Beagle has learned that newly formed Batemans Bay Foreshore Committee has now met on three occasions to discuss the concerns held by committee members and to hear the solutions being worked through by the RMS and project contractor, John Holland. It is a formally established RMS committee and as such will be given clear agenda items for discussion for each meeting and be officially minuted including a record of any divisions between the committee, the RMS or Eurobodalla Council who have both staff and the Mayor as attendees. While the meetings are not open to the public and all the committee members are sworn to secrecy on matters that are nominated as confidential it is hoped that the community might be kept better informed of decisions as they are agreed to and to be able to openly engage with the community they represent to seek opinion on upcoming discussion items. The concern remains however that there might well be back-room agreement with committee members, Council, the RMS and the project managers without community inclusion in the process due to the fact that committee members are actually gagged from talking to the community they are meant to represent. If this is the case it will be seen as simply lip service, box ticking with the community "getting what they are given". It is already understood that Council and the Mayor have very strong views around the existing foreshore usage and rights bought to a head by their viewpoint of the existing failing T-Wharf. Mention of floating pontoons continues to bring opposition with reasoning that doesn't reference hydrological findings. The economic rationality perspective also doesn't reflect the overall cost benefit support of the pontoons being voiced by many in the community who would like to see greater access to the public and overall improvements to access by all. It has been voiced that Foreshore Committee discussions should also debate the retention of costly State funded assets and tenuous Crown Land leases that benefit a few rather than all of the community in an open, transparent and equitable fashion.
Our Towns Our Say (OTOS) is following on from its own three previous and highly successful community forums, to allow concerned members of Batemans Bay and surrounding areas, a chance to bring their concerns into sharp focus at the next forum. This will be held in the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Saturday 1 December at 2:00pm.
Spokesperson for OTOS, Coral Anderson stated that she and her colleagues had received much correspondence on the matter and had been asked to program another meeting to allow the voices to be heard and the facts to be debated. She said that there is now heightened community anxiety that encompasses the following bridge issues:
Traffic flow and access from the new bridge into the retail heart;
Clearance for vessels wishing to pass beneath the new bridge;
Access to existing boat ramps;
Effects on established businesses during and after construction;
Downstream shore erosion;
Hydrodynamic effects of the proposed new bridge pylons;
Destruction of the iconic, heritage-listed steel bridge;
Pedestrian and disabled access; and
Impact on as-yet-undiscovered archeological artefacts.
Anyone wishing to have a substantive bridge issue included on the Agenda, is advised to contact Coral, ASAP, on 0401 488 967.