Tomorrow, Wed the 24th April, at 9am at the Batemans Bay Community Centre a petition with some 1000 signatures to keep and maintain the Centre will be handed over to Councillor Mayne for presentation to Eurobodalla Council.
Members of the community are encouraged to attend to demonstrate their support for this core community asset.
Concerns have been raised that the Community Centre will be closed and disposed of when the new Mackay Park Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre opens.
Despite several letters of request and a presentation at Council which raised the fact that 112 community groups used the Community Centre last year, council still has not withdrawn their option to dispose of the Batemans Bay community Centre once the Mackay Park development is built. Many residents have stated they want the Batemans Bay Community Centre to stay where it is and continue to be maintained as a Community Centre, even after the Mackay Park Theatre/Arts centre is built, as an accessible, low-key meeting place. A petition with some 1000 signatures will be presented to Eurobodalla Shire Council representatives on Wednesday 24th April to emphasise the groundswell to keep the Centre.
The petition was started by PerfexInc president Dr Sue Mackenzie, who also addressed Councillors on Tuesday March 26 on any “ill-considered and regrettable move” to sell the building and dislocate its numerous users.
While the new Mackay Park facility will no doubt be a great asset to the community, there are questions raised as to why we must lose a core asset to finalise that.
‘Council has, through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), available on Council’s web site and circulated in hard copy, advised that the sale or lease of the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and BBCC are potential sources of funding to meet the cost of the proposed facility.’ even though we now have a confirmed $51million budget.
It should be noted that no such trade appears to have been required in the development of the Moruya BAS Art facility.
Councillors were surprised to hear that 112 community organisations used the centre in 2018 for U3A meetings, Meals on Wheels food preparation, dance and martial arts classes, food and craft markets, social outreach services, a youth café and many regular or singular meetings.
The original hall was built on land gifted to the community. “Now it’s being suggested that Council want to sell the Community Hall which does not belong to them,” said an original campaigner for the current Community Centre, Peter Nielson JP.
There has been a groundswell of support for the BBCC, which opened in June 1996 after a significant fundraising and lobbying campaign to replace the community facility originally in Orient Street. The present community centre was built with community funds on land gifted by the Council to replace the original site. It has since been made “operational’ by Council and they have stated that Council can sell it at will.
We are assured by council there will be more space, but so far there is no information on size or matching usability of spaces: “There is no indication the new centre will replicate or match the space for services provided in the existing centre, or its accessibility, either financially or geographically.”
“The existing centre is in a quiet and accessible part of town with plenty of parking, is on ground level, with clean and safe public toilets - the only ones in this end of town - variable room sizes with variable uses, and a carpark easily sectioned off for markets and other events.”
“It is near Baylink, the Govt Services office, Adult Ed, Katungal, SEARMS, the Museum, the carwash and has various commercial entities within easy walking distance,” Dr Mackenzie added.
“I note too that this part of town badly needs people moving in and out to keep its vitality, especially now Target is closing down. With Dan Murphy’s moving in nearby, it is even more essential to discourage negative or alcohol related behaviour by making this a well-lit and active area,” she said.
If the Community Centre was disposed of, traffic for it will be redirected to Mackay Park. We already have traffic issues in the CBD so that it can take an hour to get from the Marina to the Highway in tourist season. Not only will congestion be increased, but so, also, will the willingness of locals to use the centre in those periods, reducing income for the Council, increasing community annoyance and reducing the vitality of the new Mackay Park Facility.
The petition with some 1000 signatures will be handed to Councillor Mayne on Wed 24th April outside the Community Centre. Members of the community are encouraged to attend to demonstrate their support for this core community asset.