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the facts eventually dribble out

At the Extraordinary Meeting of Council on Thursday 17 December 2020 Councillors and the general public learn that, according to the agenda, that "Council was approached with an unsolicited offer to lease out the BBCC. Due to the classification, Council was not required to seek public submissions. However, Council received a number of submissions from the community. With the exception of the two potential leases, there appeared to be nil submissions that supported the lease." The key words here are "Council was approached with an unsolicited offer to lease out the BBCC". Just two weeks before the councillors and the general public were informed, by way of a report in the December 8th 2020 Council meeting agenda, that: "Council has received a number of unsolicited enquiries from parties interested in leasing the Batemans Bay Community Centre (BBCC). In response to enquiries, acting in accordance with section 9.2.2 of Council’s adopted delivery program, Council staff investigated the potential leasing of the Batemans Bay Community Centre." Council had been open for some time around their intention to lease or sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre AFTER the Mackay Park Centre opened. The pursuit to lease the building prior to opening came as a surprise to the community who, at the very least, expected Council to remain true to their word. Remember that the Council claims to be the innocent party here by declaring that they received "unsolicited enquiries from parties interested in leasing the Batemans Bay Community Centre (BBCC)". The Mayor delivered her most astute comment of 2020 when she said "The Community knows what the community knows". As a by-product of that erudite observation we can extrapolate that the "Councillors know what the councillors know". It appears however that the councillors are also not told all of the facts, as was revealed when the contents of an official letter from the Office of Local Government, offering concern over the long term affordability of the Mackay Park project was knowingly withheld from the councillors before they voted to commit $19 million of ratepayer funds to fill THE GAP in the $70 million construction costs. To date we have only known of the "unsolicited enquiries from parties interested in leasing the Batemans Bay Community Centre (BBCC)" however, in a letter dated January 19th 2021 we now learn that: "Council has received unsolicited interest in the purchase and leasing of the BBCC. An EOI process was undertaken for leasing, not for purchase of the centre. There have been no unsolicited interest in the purchase or leasing of other Council facilities." It begs the question of just what does go on behind closed doors and how much the councillors are unaware of the details. We know that Council intends to sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre and the Batemans Bay Information Centre, redirecting the funds to the Mackay Park $20 million "blowout". Last week The Beagle also learnt that discussions are already underway with developers looking at the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club site that Council purchased for $2.3 million

Such a sale is already forcast under 5.1.3.3 of Council’s 2020-21 Operational Plan that clearly states that Council will ‘Finalise an Expression of Interest process for the redevelopment of the northern precinct of Mackay Park’.

It should be noted that the lease of this site to the RMS is due to expire on 31 July 2021 with an option to renew for one year.


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