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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Presentation by Alan Russell May 28th 2019

AUDIO: Presentation from Alan Russell May 28th 2019 Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: May 28th 2019 Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire CouncilCreative Commons AttributionNon Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Australia more

Mayor Councillors

General Manager

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.

My name is Alan Russell. I live in Malua Bay. I wish to speak to the Batemans Bay Community Centre, Agenda item PET 19/001.

I am the Manager of Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels and it is on their behalf that I wish to speak today. I am also the President of the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay and I was the Head of College at St Peter’s Anglican College in a previous life!

As stated, I wish to speak about the Batemans Bay Community Centre and its future in relation to the operations of Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels. I wish to support the petition which is to be lodged with Council this morning but more to ask the Council, and its staff, to think most carefully on this topic and will be making three particular points.

Over the last five years I have taken an interest in the function of the Council. This was particularly so during the last two years when Mayor Brown was in the chair and a number of community meetings were held on a range of topics from Fit for the Future to the bats in Batemans Bay.

After these large community meetings, which were sometimes very hostile events, I wondered what went on within Council which was causing unease in the community.

So, when the opportunity to join a Sunset Committee arose, I thought I would accept the opportunity to get into the tent and watch more closely the workings of the Council. I offered to be a community representative on the Mackay Park Sunset Committee. Today I take another step, and address you within the Chamber.

The Mackay Park Precinct Sunset Committee experience has been an interesting one. I am not here to discuss the mechanics of a Sunset Committee but to raise a few points on a side shoot of this development.

When the Mackay Park Sunset Committee was established it was made very clear to everyone at the first meeting held at the Catalina Club, that the Mackay Park development had to be sustainable.

I did note at the time, that this could hinder imaginative thought on how this corner of Mackay Park could, and would, be established. It was also noted then, and at subsequent meetings, that the Batemans Bay Community Centre could be sold to assist with the ‘costs’ so there is to be no great burden upon the Council from the construction nor the operation of the new facility. This was accepted as we believed that the users of the Batemans Bay Community Centre would be accommodated within the new facility.

As time has gone on, and the designed for the Mackay Park has become more refined, there are a number of matters which I am concerned about but I wish to lodge my thoughts on one topic with you -retaining the Batemans Bay Community Centre after 2021.

I am aware that by the time the Mackay Park development is concluded, and that a final decision on the Batemans Bay Community Centre will be taken, there will be a different set of Councillors around this chamber who will finally decide the fate of the Batemans Bay Community Centre, but at least my few thoughts will be on the books.

First, as Manager of Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels, it appears that we could have to find a new home for our freezer. This may sound a small matter and one not really worthy of great time nor real consideration.

The Batemans Bay Community Centre is from where we conduct our northern operations and have done so for many, many years.

We already know that our freezer is not going into the new centre. So, I need to find a new location in two- or three-years’ time. This will require some work now as it is not going to be an easy task if the Centre is not available through sale, or lease to another organisation.

This may seem selfish on our part, but we believe that our community group does provide a great service to our growing older population throughout the Shire, and would like our needs to be considered. This maybe selfish by a small organisation, but we provide a service, at cost -not for a profit, and would find it very hard to relocate and pay commercial rent.

For us, already hindered by Government funding questions, this will be a big issue and was part of our Strategic planning workshop yesterday. In our Consumer Directed Care approach to our clients, we have to look at their needs, and wants. We then tailor our activities to match, and I am sure Council could do the same.

Secondly, we have moved more of our operations to the Centre, and other Council facilities.

We use the Centre for our Group Social Support programme and I can not see within the plans for the Mackay Centre a space where we would be able to conduct such an activity, and prepare lunch in a reasonable kitchen, and do so at a very reasonable rate.

Thirdly, we like many groups appreciate the Council for the ‘Not for Profit’ rate which applies when groups such as ours use our Councils facilities.

We are most grateful to the Council for their consideration and encouragement, and ultimately their support of the small groups which do so much for the community.

However, I cannot imagine that such favourable rates will move to the new Centre. If the Mackay Park Centre is to be “sustainable”, Council will not be able to provide such generous rates in the future.

A solution has been suggested. We could go to one of the other Centres. However, for us, these are not suitable (eg stairs at Hanging Rock, layout at Malua Bay), but we took this suggestion and have tried them when the Batemans Bay Community Centre has not been available. But where do we put our freezer?

The Batemans Bay Community Centre is not the most modern, and it does miss some amenities which we would normally expect, but we do not really worry about this as we can supply things to meet our needs.

What we, and many groups welcome is the space; which does not charge a lot, which is readily available, which has great access for the older person, has good carparking, is quiet and is big enough and flexible enough to meet a multitude of needs.

I am very excited about the new Mackay Park Centre. I am pleased that one suggestion I had has been agreed to, that the new Centre must be able to be expanded if and when necessary without too much disruption to what we are about to build, but I can not see, even with a bigger foot print that there will be enough spaces available for the small community groups of the Shire.

Denise and I are pleased to be part of this community.

We congratulate Council on how the Shire is looking for it is in good shape and so much work has been done throughout the Shire.

I congratulate Council on the future developments which are being planned and in particular the new centre at Mackay Park, but I do ask this Council, and the next one, to think carefully about the Batemans Bay Community Centre.

There is going to be a place in our community for the Mackay Centre, Batemans Bay Community Centre, Hanging Rock Centre and the Malua Bay Centre, and I really do think that the Council will be able to afford all of these, and be able to develop a Business Plan which caters for them all and still be meeting its sustainability guidelines..

As our community grows, and particularly as there is a need for facilities which are affordable and open to small groups which try to meet wellness and reablement aims for its members, the Batemans Bay Community Centre is, and will be, required.

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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