Just months away from going into caretaker mode prior to the upcoming Local Government elections in September the current council appears hell bent on locking in the Mackay Park project calling for tenders on construction and for the contractors to manage the pool, gym and theatrette that has recently had the tag of evacuation centre added for good measure. At last Tuesday's meeting Councillor Anthony Mayne raised justifiable concerns around what appears to be fast tracking measures that will commit the next group of councillors voted in to an inevitable financial commitment based on a suite of unknowns.
VIDEO: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: March 10th 2020
Discussion around the PSR20/001 Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre - Mackay Park - Operating and Management Model The unknowns are the final cost to build. Councillors have been told in secret briefings that Quantity Surveyors have provided their calculation of the cost to build. Having $54 million for the entire project sourced from two grants and a loan the Councillors were briefed that they best have more money up their sleeve for when the tenders come in. So, once again, behind closed doors, they listed all the places they could find more funds such as selling the Batemans Bay Community Centre, surplus public reserves, the Southern Phone dividend and even the pool of Section 94 contributions. All up they have earmarked a further $10m that they can access by moving funds around and selling off community owned assets. The public however has not been advised of any of this with the General Manager saying that to reveal possible sources of funding may jeopardise the tender process by alerting tenderers of how much Council has to spend. But Councillors have no idea of how much it will cost. Nor do they have any accurate idea of how much it will cost to maintain and their original business plan had such massive holes in its projections of revenue that they were publicly ridiculed. The council now claims it has an improved business plan with income projections however it now refuses to make this business case public saying it is commercial in confidence. While Clr Lindsay Brown says that Council needs to go ahead with the Mackay Park project as an infrastructure build to stimulate the economy and references the Batemans Bay bridge project as another stimulus project he forgets that the shire has a new and more pressing stimulus project in the form of 500 new homes that require rebuilds to help restore the lives of 500 families. So why are council going hammer and tongs to lock this project in before the next election? A project offering to provide an undersized pool, an undersized heated pool, an all too shallow learn to swim pool, a theatre space that has no demand, meeting rooms that have no storage, minimal kitchen facilities and an oversized gymnasium in a town that already has six that comes at a still unknown cost with unknown overheads at a time when the area is in immediate need of a focussed rebuild of homes, a rebuild of community, an activation of a dismal Batemans Bay CBD. The project has been a fiasco from the start and is developing into an embarrassment at ratepayers expense. This project is no longer relevant to a community now in its fourth quarter of recession. There are far more pressing matters and the community does not have the trust in Council that they so cocksuredly assume. But then, as the chair of last week's council meeting might offer ..... mine is just an opinion.