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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Next to go ? The Batemans Bay Community Centre to be demolished and sold

As many in the Batemans Bay community are coming to learn the Eurobodalla Council plans to demolish and sell the present Community Centre in Batemans Bay as stated recently by a senior staff member. The community built and owned facility is well-used as an accessible and useful community amenity and as such members of the community are now coming together to save it as a Locals Community Centre and to have it become part of a Local Precinct.

Above: Council propose to demolish and sell the community owned and funded Batemans Bay Community Centre once the Mackay Park project is complete, offering the community a cramped meeting room and kitchenette as a replacement.

A formally drafted petition has been created and distributed throughout the Batemans Bay area seeking support to keep the Community Centre as a Locals Precinct, in its present position. The alternate proposed by the the Council is to provide what appears to be, by the concept plans presented, a cramped meeting room and side kitchen in the proposed Mackay Park project. PerFex president and petition Organiser, Dr Sue Mackenzie told the Beagle "I am passionate about having a Centre that shows the strong Creative strand in the Batemans Bay Community and in no way oppose the idea of the Performing Arts Centre proposed for Mackay Park. I just do not think we have to lose the present Community Centre, which caters for such different (but overlapping) groups of people in the community, and is so much more accessible… and it was built by community fundraising." Eurobodalla Council has been saying since the project began that there is potential for the community centre and visitor info centre to be sold or leased to help meet ongoing costs Where will money come from for the facility’s operation and maintenance? The money will come from Council’s existing budgets. Detailed operating costs will depend on the final design.There is also potential for new income streams from the lease or sale of the existing community centre and visitor information centre to meet any increase in ongoing costs, as well as opportunities to progress the development of the former bowling club site (currently in use by NSW Roads and Maritime Services as a construction compound for the new Batemans Bay bridge). Some history of the Batemans Bay Community Hall: Approx 100 years ago the Batemans Bay Town Hall & Community Centre, School of Arts Memorial Hall stood in Orient Street Batemans Bay. This hall was built on land that was gifted to the community and was the constructed with effort and contribution of the community. Peter Neilson remembers how the old favourite hall that had its own block and another at the back were sold by the Council of the day. Peter writes "And in a round about way the council got the opinion that they owned the hall and the land. The council decided they would build a community centre in its place at Hanging Rock but during meetings with council and the community I suggested that the community centre must be built for Batemans Bay in Batemans Bay and it was decided that it would be built where it is today. "It was decided during this meeting that the Memorial Hall and its second block on the river side, after it was sold by council, that this money should pay for the community centre for Batemans Bay." "So as I have said the community centre belongs to the Batemans Bay community and to no one else. "Now it’s being suggested that council want to sell the Community Hall which does not belong to them and of course whatever they sell the community centre for they would take the money from the Batemans Bay community and put it their pocket as it seems that this is the usual program of the council."

Above: The community owned and built community centre in Orient Street is the first building on the left. In its later years the hall also served as a holiday option with slot cars. Photo courtesy of Leah Burke

Saving the Community Centre - a community petition

Dr Sue Mackenzie has started a petition to keep the Community Centre in its present position, as a Locals Precinct and hopes the community agrees and can help.

You can help by:

  • Distributing the petition (organisations, venues, groups) and returning it to Travel team

  • Writing non-identical letters to the Bay Post, the Independent, the Beagle, ABC local radio and any other media outlet – these are even more effective than a petition at times

  • Attend Council chambers on the day the petition is presented to council

Dr Sue Mackenzie asks "Why I am doing this?".

"The Community Centre to be demolished…says Council. The Mackay Park venture is not a stand-alone project, which many are unaware of. It was stated by Council staff recently in at least two public meetings, that the Community Centre is to be demolished, but no further plans were revealed. The tourism centre is also to go, with Internet Kiosk stands being the main replacement." "The alternative council facilities (Mackay Park football pavilion, Malua Bay hall and the Hanging Rock football/convention centre) do not have the same range of facilities in the one place and are quite isolated from other services, whereas the present community centre is near Baylink, the Govt Services office, Adult Ed, Katungal, the Museum, the carwash and various cafes and commercial entities within easy walking distance." "I note too that that part of town badly needs moving traffic/people for vitality, especially now Target is going" "Losing the Community Centre is of great concern to us as the new proposed facility does not replicate or improve on the Community Centre, with its dividable hall, large and small meeting rooms, a rentable office and a commercial scale kitchen (relied on heavily by Meals on Wheels who will not be accommodated in the new centre) and flat surrounds." "In addition the Batemans Bay Community Centre has:

  • U3A has some 40 bookings a week there (including weekend talks);

  • there is a youth café;

  • dance classes;

  • a food and crafts market;

  • social outreach events,

  • activity classes, and

  • more..…

"It is:

  • easily accessible (no major highway to cross and out of tourism hot spots),

  • has plentiful parking; and

  • a carpark between it and the Museum that can easily be sectioned off for outdoor markets, festivals and events.

  • The Water Gardens flow on from it also.

  • There is green space that could be made into community gardens

  • It is quiet.

"Rather than lose this facility, built by community funds, we would like to see the Community Centre remain, and the area made into a locals community precinct." "I am not alone. Already many people have signed the petition because they share the value of the centre for the Bay and its locals." For further background I invite readers to my letter to the Beagle, Mackay Park in Focus…February 10, 2019 Of the many comments I have heard there is one comment I saw and responded to in another article on the proposed Mackay Park facility.

  • Does community sentiment count for nothing councillors? It's not just the swimming community that is unhappy with the current plans - there are many, many others. What will happen with the youth café in the community centre for the Koori children? They will not be walking across the highway to a much smaller venue. Please rethink. Aunty Ruth

My response: Aunty Ruth, I quite agree. It is essential we have a locals’ community Centre on the CBD side of the town, within walking distance. A locals precinct to complement the one in Mackay Park, not compete with it or be swallowed by it. One we can wander into....(SM)

"I hope the community will all help save our community asset." said Dr Mackenzie

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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