just a slight hiccup in Council's plans to sell the BBay Information Centre and historic cemetery

Eurobodalla Council has identified that it intends to sell the Batemans Bay Information Centre (they expect $1m from the sale when listed in February 2021) to help make up the shortfall they have in funds to complete the $70 million Mackay Park 25m pool and 350 seat hall across the road. There could however be a slight hiccup in their plans as it is understood that the parcel of land that has the Information Centre and Public Toilet also has its own cemetery. The Presbyterian Cemetery is the former Batemans Bay which is classified currently as a Remnant historic cemetery. In 2010 it was recorded that urgent stabilisation and repair of headstones was required. In 2020 this continues to be the case. There is little doubt that any prospective buyer of the Information Centre and the parcel of land will want to be encumbered with the cost of stabilsation of the cemetery area. The cemetery is listed as a Heritage Item 3 under the ELEP 2012 The surviving headstones are the only tangible remains of what was once a considerable dedication of land to the Presbyterian Church, which in combination with the former Catholic Church and the former courthouse, created a significant core to early village. With the ongoing urbanisation of Batemans Bay, this small cemetery and surrounding bushland is an increasingly important remnant of the original landscape. The Presbyterian cemetery is all that remains of a large portion of land that was dedicated to the Presbyterian Church on 1 June 1880. The portion extended from Hill St to Church St (now known as Beach Road), and from Bent Street west the highway – (then known as Vesper Street). The western end was indicated for the manse and the eastern end for the church. The cemetery is towards the eastern end.

Above: Batemans Bay resident Betty Murdoch at her grandparents’ graves, which are in a heritage-listed gravesite off Hill St. In 2009 descendants of the Batemans Bay pioneers buried in a heritage-listed cemetery off Bent Street wanted Eurobodalla Shire Council to make public what it intends to do with the gravesites. The parcel of land, going across Bent St and Hill St, is one of 16 parcels of land council proposes to reclassify from community to operational as part of the draft Local Environmental Plan process.The council will be holding a public hearing for the reclassification of all 16 parcels of land at the council Chambers on July 30. Descendant Cynthia Hill, nee Ryan, said it was believed the land was donated by Batemans Bay families to the Catholic Church to bury the people on top of the hill.

“The last Ryan buried there was buried in 1952,” she said Source: Bay Post July 10th 2009

Descendants of Batemans Bay pioneers say news that council wants to change the land classification at the historical cemetery has sparked concerns.

“The concerns come from a previous incident which occurred more than 20 years ago when a proposed development was made public, which would have seen units built on top of gravesites on this parcel of land,” one descendant said. In about the 1980s a large portion of the land was excavated to allow for a carpark and tourist information centre at the lower level, leaving a portion of the cemetery at the excavated edge. It is not established if unmarked burials extended into the ground that was excavated. This small cemetery is on land that slopes to the north before dropping precipitously to the street below. Hill Street is up a grassed slope to the south and there is thick bush to both the east and west. There are a variety of headstones in granite, sandstone and marble with iron railings around some of the plots. Moruya Court House records indicated there had been 27 burials between 24 January 1889 and 1935 of which 16 were visible in 1997, noting that some headstones commemorated several burials. Surviving stones commemorate: Gertrude May Ball (1889); Frederick Latta (1901); Clyde Roberts (1902); May Latta (1902); Olive Knapp (1903): John McMillan (1912); George Roberts (1914); Florence Wright (1915); James Wright (1917); Hugh Wright (no date); Percival Roberts (1918); Winifred McMillan (1918); William McMillan (1919); John Kidd (1921); Edwin Ladmore (1923); and Mary Ladmore (1935). The last recorded burial was on 27 June 1935.

Source Many are in poor condition with broken headstones and grave plots - urgent stabilisation is required. Original timber fence posts were visible around the Cemetery site in 1997. Members of Presbyterian, Wesleyan and Methodist faiths were buried in this cemetery. In May 2020 the Eurobodalla Council received a report to advise them that the Historic Cemeteries Conservation Management Study (the study) had been conducted to investigate the heritage significance of the historic cemeteries in the Eurobodalla Shire and to contribute to their future planning and management. The report presented the outcomes of the study to councillors for their consideration with a recommendation for its adoption. The Councillors were advised that many of the historic cemeteries are Council assets (Including the Batemans Bay cemetery) and as such, Council has an obligation to care for and preserve their heritage significance under Tasks 30-32 (below) of Council’s Heritage Strategy 2017-2021. The stated outcome for this section is that “Council’s heritage assets are well-maintained and accessible to the community.” 30. Cooperatively manage Council’s heritage assets in consultation with the community 32. Ensure Council owned and/or managed heritage items or areas are specifically addressed in Council’s Asset Management Plans with actions for conserving the item and its heritage significance The recommendations listed in the Historic Cemeteries Conservation Management Study adopted by Council state for the Batemans Bay Cemetery: Recommendations  Restore monuments,  Improve stabilisation of excavated edge,  Carefully clear encroaching vegetation from immediate edge of cemetery,  Identify markers from 1997 if they still exist,  Incorporate the cemetery and surrounds into a parkland in combination with the Catholic cemetery and the access path to Beach Street. It is now understood that Eurobodalla Council wishes to sell the Information Centre and the land it is on. It is also understood that the land was gifted to the Council by the Church for use as an Information Centre on the proviso that it DID NOT sell that property to ensure the cemetery remained in community hands and was managed by Council. Should it be the case that Council will continue in its intentions to sell the Information Centre they will need to subdivide the land as they are committed by their own Heritage Strategy to repair, stablise, maintain and improve the cemetery.

The Councillors might like to seek some clarity around the a few anomalies before they proceed with selling The FIRST is that the graphic provided to the Councillors (above) shows Lot 1 DP740584 and says the source is SIX Maps. As can be seen in the current Six Maps image below the property is Lot 11 DP1257575. It is of concern that the council staff appear to have provided outdated cadastral information to the Councillors in their report. This could be because they no longer have a registered surveyor and have now outsourced their surveying at fee.

The Title search below of Aug 12th 2020 accurately shows the parcel to be owned by Council and that it is encumbered by a Right of Way that will also diminish the available land that Council can sell with the Information Centre.