Public Forum 30 April 2019
I thank you for providing me with this opportunity to address you in this Public Forum session. My address is on Agenda item number PSR19/007 Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Cultural Centre Survey Results.
$51 million has been secured for the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Aquatic/PerfEx Project. Congratulations to those who have worked to achieve this funding, arguably the largest on record for Eurobodalla Shire! It's important that it be spent responsibly to maximise its long-term benefit for the community.
Councillors, can you truthfully say that you have given this project its due diligence?
Have you been privy to full consultation with our community on this important infrastructure? That is, have no individuals or groups been excluded from open, fair, transparent, involvement, with all cards or options put on the table for their consideration?
Have you asked the community what its preference is : a 25 metre pool or a 50 metre Olympic Pool?
Has a 50 metre Olympic Pool been an option from the beginning of this process?
If not why not?
I recall accurately, a conversation I had about the Mackay Park Complex with Director Warren Sharpe in 2015, when I visited him on a matter related to the Batemans Bay Life Saving Club of which I was then Secretary.
Warren told me then, in no uncertain terms, that he would be writing the brief for inclusions in the proposed Mackay Park complex. He stated then that he would only be including a 25 m pool, after demolishing the existing 50 m pool.
I stated clearly to Warren then that I would "fight" to have a 50 metre Olympic pool included in the new complex. The outcome is what we have here today. We have both kept our word.
Councillors, you are the ultimate decision makers here and you can change what I and many others believe to be a gross injustice that was perpetrated upon our community at the Extraordinary Council meeting on 29th August 2017.
That resolution, effectively to bulldoze the Bowling Club & the 50 m swimming pool ( ref. Otium 1. Concept Plan) and replace the 50 m pool with a 25 m pool, was supposedly passed to meet the deadline for applications for NSW Government grants:
$8 million from the NSW Regional Cultural Fund, closing on 4th Sept.
$18 million from NSW Regional Sports and Infrastructure Fund
Applications for those grants failed.
Councillors were told that they could change the inclusions on what was colloquially known as "mud map Otium 1" once funding had been obtained.
Councillors, you were told then that a 50 metre Olympic pool was considered a possibility. Are you aware that thousands of community members, most of whom use the existing 50 metre pool, including the Batemans Bay Swim Club, 11 PSSA Schools, lap swimmers, Sporting Clubs & more were never consulted before the 50 m pool was ruled out? If you were not aware, do you think that the General Manager, driving the whole process, should have alerted you to that fact?
Councillors, you have never asked the people who elected you, if they wanted a 50m Olympic Pool ?
Why have you decided to bulldoze our 50 m Olympic pool & replace it with a 25 m pool? Narooma has kept theirs, built at the same time with generous donations from the same family, i.e. Streets!
"The Eurobodalla Draft Strategic Aquatic Report" which was, I understand passed by 6 of you with the 'Otium 1 mud map' on 29th August, 2017, listed the estimated maintenance and the projected costs of maintenance on both the Narooma Pool & Batemans Bay Pool .... Both required extensive costly repairs & Narooma's Pool was reported to be in a worse state than the Bay pool! The implications of this are that, once Batemans Bay's pool is demolished and replaced with a 25 m pool, Narooma's 50 m pool will also have to be demolished & replaced by a 25 m pool, leaving Eurobodalla completely without a 50 m Olympic pool.
What is left for Bateman Bay's serious swimmers? A 2-hour round trip to Ulladulla on unsafe roads 3 or 4 times a week !
Councillors, do you accept that this is a fair outcome for the largest population base in Eurobodalla - more than 70% of the total and growing rapidly at 18% last year ?
Councillor Jack Tait told us, not so long ago, that he drove hundreds of miles out in the bush to find a water hole to swim in. Those days are gone Councillor and what you and your fellow Councillors are doing here in Batemans Bay is taking a multi-million dollar facility away from the community & giving it back half i.e. an inadequate 25 metre pool.
Councillors, please revisit your decision!
Why don't you want Batemans Bay to have a new 50 metre Olympic Pool when the money is here i.e. $51 million in the bank; over $4 million more than was initially applied for?
This is surely more than enough to build the aquatic /arts complex & include a 50 m Olympic pool? If it isn’t – then show us the figures!
I refer you to the newly released report on the Leisure Centre survey results. In regard to the questions “What do you like” and “What don’t you like”, the response from the majority of respondents was overwhelmingly in favour of the inclusion of a 50 metre Olympic Pool, even though the Survey sought to avoid that outcome. The people have spoken, yet again.
When will you start listening to them?
I have included very recent photographs of the Gungahlin Aquatic Leisure Centre for your information today. You can see from these photos, just what is possible for Batemans Bay.
Via Coral Anderson (Proxy for the meeting)