Don't mention the unmentionable
The Beagle Editor, It is commendable that Council have finally taken the Batemans Bay Foreshore Committee and the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce seriously that the Clyde Street foreshore on the southern side needs an overhaul. The ideas we heard in the walk around were good and the idea of pedestrian quieting Clyde Street and taking back some of the car parking for open park land is terrific. When we were going past the toilets everyone agreed they were ugly but when we asked about the Boatshed it was if someone had said Voldermort and that even mentioning it was a no-no. So that got me wondering. Today at the Corrigans Beach Crown land review public information kiosk a woman was told "all councils are required to complete a review on crown land holdings by 2030". Then the question was asked by someone else if the Boatshed would be included in the review. The answer given was that it is a "heritage lease". So I looked it up when I got home and lordy lordy look what I found. environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1550402
The Boatshed and Jetty
Statement of significance: It is considered that the Boatshed building and the jetties, as structures, have moderate significance, that is, they are elements which have little heritage value, but which contributes to the overall significance of the Place. A less tangible element of the Place, that has some importance, is the contact between the waterfront, user/customer, and the fishing/food-oriented activity in the Place. This value, is considered to be of high significance, and the structures provide the setting for this value to be clearly demonstrated. The Boatshed and jetties are considered to be of local significance The building exhibits a range of improvised development to address changing needs, of both the users and the public. The changes are built in an unsophisticated manner, and are essentially cheap and functional in character. The building obscures views to the water, but this is an accident of history rather than deliberate design. Assessment of significance The Boatshed is considered to have low architectural and aesthetic merit. Its silhouette and some of the internal structure is all that remains of the original building. It is possible that the boatshed, prior to alterations, was a weatherboard- lined structure, which if it had survived in its original appearance, would have a more obvious visual link to traditional coastal architecture in the area. The boatshed does not enhance the waterfront in an aesthetic sense. It blocks the view to the water from a number of viewpoints (as does the toilet block). There are several 'layers' of alterations which obscure the original structure, and the result is a series of responses to needs that have arisen during the history of the building. The Foreshore Master Plan was developed with community consultation, but this did not deal with the Boatshed in detail. There has been no formal process of public consultation on the future of the Boatshed, but there has been vigorous public debate in local print media. A petition has been prepared since 1998, and has approximately 100,000 signatures. The petition reads; "We the undersigned, support the Innes family in their endeavour to secure a new lease for the Boatshed" This is a measure of community and more widespread support for the Innes family, but, as for all petitions, the depth with which the question is considered by signatories is at best shallow. Signatures are often gathered in hasty, uninformed circumstances, but the size of the petition does need consideration. It may be construed that the signatories were supporting the continuation of the Boatshed as a place and a service, rather than a vote of support for the Innes family to continue its association with the Place. The petition is clear in its question, but can result in a range of interpretations as to the value that the community holds for the Boatshed. In 2001 the Eurobodalla Heritage Advisory Committee had a majority, not unanimous view about the retention of the Boatshed.
At a Committee meeting on 24 April 2001 the following motion was declared carried; "THAT the Committee recommend that the boatshed ( now leased by Innes) and jetty be retained because of the heritage significance of the site to the community as outlined by the Council Heritage Adviser, Peter Freeman." (Motion L Pacey I K Boyce) Although the motion was not passed unanimously, the Committee's views can be recognised as an important reflection of a representative group that has an interest in local heritage matters. This investigation has found that there are a number of community-based values that are conflicting. There are views that; • indicate that the Place is important for the waterfront "boats, fishing, processing and fish and chips experience", • see the Place as an impediment to the development of the foreshore which aims to produce better public access and facilities, • the Place is both important, and unimportant to the heritage of Bateman's Bay (contrasting views), • the Place is an important landmark that contributes to the identity of Bateman's Bay, and • suggest that the current lessee has had a 'fair go', with modest rental supporting a profitable business. This is not a heritage issue, but is a matter that emerges in discussions about the Place. Unless the Boatshed is on the table and included in the future foreshore plans and unless the community are invited to have a real say that includes talking about the Boatshed then there is not real community engagement. Unless we know exactly what the conditions are of the Crown lease over the Boatshed and know the boundaries of other Crown leases along the foreshore we will never know if we can have floating pontoons, a riverside public space that works that the community actually want and a new tourism info centre. Batemans Bay, without the old bridge and with all the new swish dunnies, matching powder coated garbage bins and bollards, brick paving and the awesome, beautiful, amazing new Leisure Centre gateway has nothing left of its history except for an old boatshed and jetty that has "moderate significance, that is, they are elements which have little heritage value, but which contributes to the overall significance of the Place." With a new era bridge, all the new shops, the new car park, the revamped Clyde Street, North Street and Orient Street I for one agree with "The boatshed does not enhance the waterfront in an aesthetic sense. It blocks the view to the water from a number of viewpoints (as does the toilet block). There are several 'layers' of alterations which obscure the original structure, and the result is a series of responses to needs that have arisen during the history of the building." Maybe it is time for the community and not just a committee to have a say on this Crown Land lease owned by the people with its "modest rental supporting a profitable business". Maybe it is time to return the foreshore to the people and move the fish and chip shop over the road to compete on an even playing field with the other cafes in town. Maybe it is time to be open and transparent. If only.
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