Editorial Jan 18th 2019
Welcome to this week’s editorial . It is becoming clearer by the day that the Mackay Park Aquatic Centre and Performance space is developing a smell about it. The wider public are becoming engaged with the project and are coming to realise that all is not as it seems. Around thirty years ago a group began to lobby for a hydro therapy pool for Batemans Bay. Council said they would back it if funds could be raised. A simple pool for a specific purpose. Eleven years ago in 2007 another group formed, PerFex—and their intent was to “bring to completion the construction of a centre for the performing and visual arts, to meet the current and future needs of the Batemans Bay Community" Since adopting this mission statement, research, demand and viability factors all point to a full multi-purpose centre being the right model for Batemans Bay. Such a centre would also accommodate conferences and seminars. So there we have it—two groups with two distinct goals. Initially (2013) the Council moved to build the pool at Hanging Rock and even adopted plans to proceed with having carried extensive public consultation. However it didn’t include a solution for PerFex. In 2016 we hear that Council has bought the Batemans Bay Bowling Club suggesting that “Some of the opportunities for the site could include a new aquatic centre, an arts cultural cinema building, conference and event space, tourism accommodation, restaurant and cafes, seniors’ living” The hydro pool people were happy and PerFex were happy. The Bowling Club site was going to provide. But then… both parties discovered that the bowling club site was now off the table and that a new location had been approved by Councillors—the Batemans Bay 50m pool site. Concept plans were produced and the whole community discovered that the 50m pool would be no more. In its place were slippery slides, splash pools, learn to swim pool, a hydro therapy pool, a 25m pool, a gymnasium, a visitors centre, some meeting rooms, an art gallery, a café and a performance space that certainly did not meet the brief of being “a centre for the performing and visual arts”. And how much would this cost? Just $51 million. The hydro pool people were happy enough. They had their pool. Those who enjoyed the town’s 50m pool however were not happy. But they were told the decision had been made by councillors that if they wanted to do laps they could go to Ulladulla or Narooma. So that left the good folk of Eurobodalla with a concept plan that no-one liked (except the hydro therapy group). But then to add insult those plans were thrown out and new ones bought in to reinvent the wheel once again. The community are now indicating that they are not at all happy. The new plans are serving no-one with proposals of half the pools being outside for six months of the year, no solar heating, cramped foyers, squashed facilities, shared amenities and the loss of the Mini Golf thrown into the equation. And how much has all this cost to date, to be at square one still? And where are the costings and projections for the new concept plans? The Councillors are in the dark as much as the rest of us. What is becoming quickly apparent is that the shire folk and especially those of Batemans Bay have been hoodwinked with Council playing the three cups and a pea game with us all.
Until next Lei