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Community Centre lease and sale given a stay of execution..... for now

In what was an unexpected twist the Mayor today moved that the approval of leasing of the Batemans Bay Community Centre be deferred as she had some unanswered questions around the proposal. Whimsically Cr Thompson made the comment that the councillors had already been fully briefed and that he would not support deferring, however, the Mayor, who did not attend the briefing and therefore was not up to running speed with questions still at mind, managed for find enough votes to defer the matter to a later date. The later date might well be in a fortnight's time at the next Council meeting. If that is the case then Council might expect the same five solid presenters they today come forward, once again, to request that councillors act for the community and walk away from the staff's recommendation to lease the land. Once again, through questioning by Clr Anthony Mayne, it was revealed that his Notice of Motion to reclassify the land from Operational to Community would put in place two blocks to council staff's intention to sell the building. Once classified as Community any consideration of selling the building would require community consultation. Presently, as it is classified Operational, no community consultation to sell is required. Again today it was revealed that Council "has no intention of selling the building at this point in time" and that "This Council does not intend selling the building". As the remaining term of this council is only ten months Council Mayne was attempting to secure the Batemans Bay Community Centre for the community into the future and to secure it from possible sale by the next Council, knowing full well that the stated intent of the council staff is to sell the building to secure funds for the operating costs of the Mackay Park Complex. But unfortunately for Councillor Mayne, McGinlay and Constable they were voted down in the Notice of Motion to reclassify by Mayor Innes, her Community Action team members Jack Tait and Maureen Nathan along with Clrs Pollock, Brown and Thomson. Today saw five strong presenters address Councillors on why Council should not move forward with their intention to lease the popular and community owned Community Centre. In contact from Covid bound England, Sue Mackenzie, President of Perfex and member and presenter with the University of the Third Age (U3A) is hopeful that the Mayor and her councilors might undertake a more thorough on-site investigation of the many issues raised being that:

  • There is no mention (nor any discussion) around the fact that leasing the building will remove the only public toilets in that precinct. The proposed closure of the Information Centre in February 2021 will also see those Public Toilets closed leaving only the Boatshed Public Toilets and Albert Ryan Park.

  • the ambience of a Basketball Hall identified as an alternate community space (imagine a ‘talk’ for 20 people in the basketball court?)

  • the history of trying to lease the Basketball court and that being discouraged by them because chairs scratch the court

  • that there is only a one-person lift to Hanging Rock. You have to organise to get a key, and it would take some 20mins to get even TEN people up there!

  • No mention of the sprung floor and there being no other in other Council venues

  • No mention of the cold. The hard floor and the dark of Malua bay hall, let alone its precarious parking for disabled!

  • Or the noise associated with pre-schoolers

  • Or the extra imposition on admin of volunteer groups to negotiate across venues and features

  • OR the lack of a comparable COMBINATION of features anywhere else

She also asks "And why does the report not include why the underutilised venues are not being considered, or disposed of or upgraded. The Council meeting today revealed that while the Batemans Bay Community Centre remains Operational it remains at risk of being sold by staff should they wish to put it before the voting bloc of 5-3 lead by Innes, Tait and Nathan. While Clr Nathan might chose to remind the community that she can only respond with any certainty on what might happen in the remaining term of this council it was more than evident that the staff are driving the initiative to sell the Community by way of baby steps that begin with leasing. The staff have revealed that they are economic rationalists and have identified they want to move the community into less utilised venues in the short term, freeing u the community centre for lease then sale with a hope that the community might then hire the cramped meeting rooms that are being provided at the Mackay Park Complex when the building opens. Irrespective as to how the next vote goes the public has now seen the vote of their councillors and know "Who is with them, and who is against them".


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