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At last the ‘Last’

The Beagle Editor, Well, at last we have it, the ‘final’ plan for the Mackay Park Aquatic Arts Centre. It is a giant leap forward from the three concept plans we saw earlier this year and I am so glad. The video walk-through is also impressive. We should expect light and space and ‘flow’ and an appealing exterior.

Am I rejoicing yet? Well, I am warming that we may actually get a pleasant theatre  with hanging space in the foyer for local artists and a flat floor theatre that may house a reasonable Art exhibition, and also a usable pool complex.

As guessed, the Arts building is really to become a theatre complex with hanging space and two workshop areas for Art practitioners and participants– nowhere near the original needs as described by Council itself for the Bay, some ten years ago – and for this I am sad.

I am also still not convinced there are anywhere near the meeting room spaces needed by the wider community: the multi-use rooms allocated are subject to quite a lot of competition for them – dance studio, rehearsal rooms, green room, etc, especially if they close the BBCommCentre.

Nor do I understand why we are needing to seek more funds – surely $51 million is enough?


Recently I visited the Murwillumbah Art Gallery, with its 3 superb galleries and a café people come from near and far for – it certainly cost less than even half of our $51 million.

Once again I feel we are being softened up to accept the sale of the Batemans Bay Community Centre and other community assets (“it remains the proposed position that Council close the BBCC, once the new (Mackay Park) centre is opened and look at opportunities to either sell or lease the site " - to allow Council to metaphorically put all its eggs in one basket? Why?

“Therefore there remains the potential that Council will not be able to afford the full scope of the project." More questions arise: Will the Arts component ever be built at all? Will Council cut back on the proposal and still sell our other community assets?

The second floor from the previous concept plans has already disappeared; there is no commercial kitchen, nor place for Meals on Wheels; there is to be no piano and there is no provision for storage of such an item. What else is missing?

I note we are still not allowed to see the management proposals or business plan (though Freedom of Information in the following years will give us a truer picture of the process and its players) and it will be a new Council that will see the opening of the centre.

There is an old Buddhist story of two monks walking to a village at night when a storm arises. All is dark. Then lightning fills the sky and the young monk is dazzled, gazing skywards; the older monk watches the ground for the path to their destination to be revealed. Let’s not get dazzled. Let’s look at what else is revealed. This is potentially a wonderful project and we are closer to it than we have ever been. Let’s not lose our way now.

(Above quotations are from the council report re the Mackay Park plan to Council meeting last Tuesday 19/8/2019) Sue Mackenzie


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