Today's Council meeting clearly showed those in the gallery and watching via live streaming that the Council appears to have lost its cocksuredness around the $51m Mackay Park project as three very well informed speakers presented to Councillors on issues around Council's intent to sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre on the premise that they may need the money to contribute to either the capital cost of the new aquatic centre or to its operational costs once opened. The Public Forum session began with a presentation from Dr Sue Mackenzie, president of PerFex who spoke to the 1000+ plus petition that was being tabled suggesting that there was "some very short term thinking going on". Dr Mackenzie also suggested that "now is the time to rethink the whole complex and the wider community impact, before anything is finally set in stone, and time to be more transparent with the community and its effects on them, now and into the future." "We have $51 million. The Otium business case is well out of date and, as yet, the business case the grant applications were based on, has not been released. A business that sells off its assets to pay running costs of essential services is not a viable concern," she said. Following Dr Mackenzie was an excellent presentation by Alan Russell, Manager of Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels who continued with the questioning around Council's determined commitment to press ahead with the Council's stance that they have a mandate to move ahead with the intent of selling as the "business case prepared by Otium and adopted by Council, is based upon funds currently used to operate the Batemans Bay Community Centre and VIC, being redirected to meet operating costs of the Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre and to calculate the net operational cost to Council and therefore the community of that facility." Quite surprisingly the General Manager appears to have seen Concept D, the next draft plan to be delivered to the councillors and community. In her report she advises of Concept D that "The concept plans provide meeting and multi-purpose spaces, in excess of the capacity provided at the BBCC. It also contains food handling/service area, dance and rehearsal area, and flat floor area in the theatre, plus the 350 seat capacity of the theatre. This is significantly more capacity seating than exists at the BBCC, which requires seating to be set up and packed up for and after each event." Mr Russell however indicated concerns that Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels may have to find a new home as the proposed new facilities did not appear to accommodate the services that MOW required at the rate of lease/hire they were able to pay. The third presenter was David Maclachlan, president of the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. It was Davids presentation that caused the biggest stir as it revealed that Council were completely out of their depth and floundering when it came to understanding core business principles around projected incomes for the proposed new Centre, in particular the 350 seat theatre component. Of significance was the following revelation when he advised the councillors:
At the last two Council held forums on the McKay Park Aquatic Arts Centre which was conducted for business, I requested Councils list of potential users for the new arts centre and I asked if the users included Batemans Bay Community Centre users so that informed input could be made.On both occasions I received a positive response that the request would be considered, though I heard nothing further. At the last business forum I also asked if a business case could be furnished to enable informed input. The Council officer running the forums said that he would consider this and see if he could provide the business case in confidence to the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber. The architects in the forum then interjected and said there was no business case, though there was a list of potential users. So, the architects had just told us that they had been designing a significant centre without a business case. Those present were gobsmacked by this revelation. In addressing the Councillors Mr Maclachlan said "Much of the General Managers response to this motion focuses on offsetting the new Arts Centre costs with Batemans Bay Community Centre costs. This rationale signifies the change of use of the new Arts centre to more of an inevitable replacement for the Batemans Bay Community Centre." "I do not believe the people of the Shire will reconcile the new Arts centre becoming a glorified community centre. The community expects Council to provide what they set out to provide, and that is an iconic arts facility which would provide significant entertainment and not be a white elephant."
Above: Community Centre users are now wary of pink ringed, white, thespian elephants in lap-pool with goggles demolishing their hall.
The revelation that there is no business case at all is now widely considered to indicate that Council is going headlong into a project that it has little if any idea of costings, projected incomes and projected running costs. It was for this very reason that the following motion was put up to bring a halt to the impetus that was going unchecked where Council imagined it had a mandate to factor in the sale of the Community Centre in order to contribute to the capital costs of the proposed Aquatic Centre. Today they moved a motion THAT a decision on the Batemans Bay Community Centre be deferred until the capital and operation costs for the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre have been determined based on actual tendered prices. You can hear the Councillors discussion/debate below: (Note - the final closing statement of Councillor Mayne is missing as Council's internet streaming failed just as he was in the last sentences of his summary - the motion above was carried)
AUDIO: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: May 28th 2019 Discussion and debate around the tabling of Petition PET 19/001. Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire Council Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. read more http://bit.ly/beagleCC