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We need to look beyond Mayoral fanfare and ribbon cutting for Mackay Park

The Beagle Editor, Mackay Park project

How sad it is that we are still discussing this. While the generous grants we received form State and Federal coffers were a unique possibility to showcase the creative strands of our community, and upgrade and give all year access to the pool for coaching and health purposes, we are still reeling from the Council-proposed (and State approved) outcome of

· a non-Olympic pool

· an enormous gym in competition to local businesses and

· a closed in theatre space with no room for expansion.

This will be at the cost of our Community Centre, as many assets as possible sold (primarily green space, but also our Moruya Race Course), the loss of the old Bowlo site from Community Use and a proposed business plan (still secret) that appears to mean an ongoing loss for us and a predicted big blowout above the grant allocation of some 10 million.

Perfex lobbied for years for an interactive creative hub, with a vibe that encouraged people to get involved. That would have helped business too. Tying it to the Aquatic Centre has always been a bizarre concept; the closed in theatre complex does not allow for expansion or inclusion or interaction of the wider community, and another gym is certainly unwarranted.

Yes, the common sense solution is to defer and re-locate an Arts Centre to the Old Bowlo site; drop the gym (support the local businesses); keep the Community Centre (for Meals on Wheels and 'ordinary' community activities) and design something within our means (remember the General Manager’s dictum?) rather than taking away community assets (seen and unseen) and risking huge losses.

It will look grand no doubt and there will be a fanfare when it opens- if it does - but openings are not the long story - whether the community uses it is, and if it is affordable and creates flow-on benefit is the real test. Unfortunately the council seems to have gotten themselves on a 'train' they do not want to get off.

I don’t doubt the pool facilities will be used – we have needed a therapeutic pool for a long time and will use it more and more as our aged demographic peaks, and our young people thrive – but the Arts Centre is not an Arts Centre at all, just a theatre and a few tack-ons.

I wish I was wrong about this limited use in the community, often talked about as an upcoming white elephant, but I doubt it.

Please, community, fight for what we really want, including keeping the Community Centre and our natural environment that we spruik so much about in our tourism brochures.

We are going to need all the incentives we can to bring in business and yet maintain our community, family-friendly environment which is so treasured that 40% of our houses, some 57 motels, several resorts and caravan parks, plus many B&Bs and numerous private lettings are dedicated to people coming here for holiday pleasure.

Yes, government bodies are there to provide worthwhile community facilities that may run at a loss but, after all our calamities – bushfire, floods, the covid virus and its restrictions – we do not need an expensive gift on top of these, especially one that will cost us forever.

Susan Mackenzie

President, Perfex Inc.

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