In a social media release on Friday 23rd, November in Batemans Bay the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance said "It’s fantastic to see progress being made on the delivery of a new Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre at Batemans Bay. "To have a year-round indoor swimming facility which caters for everyone – from kids, to seniors, swimmers and people with a disability – is something which I think is incredibly exciting for our community."
Meanwhile across town local community members were meeting with the NSW Shadow Minister for Sport, Lynda Voltz, expressing their dismay that the replacement of the "outdated old pool" meant that the community was in fact losing its 50m pool.
Above: Local Community members met with Shadow Minister for Sport Lynda Voltz and Leanne Atkinson, Labor Candidate for Bega to discuss their concerns around the ommision of a 50m pool in the Batemans Bay Aqautic Centre. Maureen Searson of Fight for the 50m Pool group told the Beagle that the meeting with MP Linda Volz raised several concerns in regards to the new pool. The primary concern was that while the old pool might appear to be "outdated" there was nothing outdated with the fact that swimming, as a sport, requires a 50m pool. Council have told the community that swimming carnivals will now be held in Narooma because they have endorsed the Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy which says that they will commit to retaining a competitive 50m Olympic standard pool at Narooma. Ms Searson said "For anyone from the Batemans Bay area who actually swims as a sport this means that they will have to navigate the Princes Highway to Ulladulla or Narooma four to five times per week and children doing school carnivals will be bussed to Narooma" That strategy was endorsed by Council with absolutely no public consultation. When the Councillors were initially confronted about the length of the pool shown in their concept the Mayor very clearly said they could rub out pencil lines and make the pool longer and that the concept was just a concept". Ms Searson advised that it wasn't just the issue of the 50m pool that was discussed with concerns raised around the business plan that Council's consultants provided that clearly indicate that there have been considerable assumptions made in projected incomes and running costs with omissions of key financial burdens such a over runs, depreciation and consequences of lower than calculated attendance rates. All of which will place a considerable burden on ratepayers. While the $26m announced from the NSW State government is now an unconditional gift the original grant application made by Eurobodalla Council to the Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund - Office of Sport - NSW Government is still being processed. It is not known what will happen with this application if Council are deemed successful. Of interest is that a Freedom of Information request was made by a member of the community to gain access to the Business Plan that was provided by Council when they lodged their grant application. The Office of Sport was initially happy to provide the documents that would show details of income projections and anticipated costs to the community of the facility however Eurobodalla Council blocked the documents being provided. It is understood however that once the grant application has been finalised the Business Plan will be released under Freedom of Information. A similar request is being made to access the Full Business Plan crafted by Council for the Federal Government $25m Grant that is pending until financial evidence of capacity to deliver and to sustainably maintain the facility is provided. While Councillors are of the opinion that the Federal grant is all but approved and the Member for Bega states he is "very pleased that the Commonwealth is now going to chip in an extra $25m dollars" this is still a long way from being confirmed by the Regional Growth Fund Agency.