Eurobodalla Council will soon seek expressions of interest for development of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club site.
Council purchased the site – located on the highway adjacent to the new Bay Pavilions complex – in 2016. It is currently leased to Transport for NSW until the end of July as part of the Batemans Bay Bridge development. At the time the purchase was commented on by one councillor as "Council having no option". On April 26th 2016 the Councillors and Public were presented with an agenda. That agenda had a secreted in it a Mayoral Report that was not made known to the public. The Mayoral report that was to adopt the recommendation to buy the land was determined behind closed doors and was so mis-managed by way of open and transparent minuting as to require a Code of Conduct to be raised. The Beagle has been keeping an eye on the purchase from the start and has advised the new councillors of some interesting history. (see below)
Today's media release Council’s property manager Andrew Greenway said Council had previously engaged with the community and identified tourist accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants and cafes, and residential accommodation as the preferred development options.
“The future of the site will be a matter for Councillors to decide, requiring a Council resolution,” Mr Greenway said.
Mr Greenway said Council had previously sought expressions of interest in June 2021.
“While we know there is interest in the site, no formal expressions were received at that time,” he said. While the media release is titled "What use Bay bowling club site?" as if to ask the community for an opinion saying "It will be for Councillors to determine the future of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club site after the TfNSW lease expires on 31 July 2022" it appears that council staff are already advising the councillors by saying "This time, we’ll engage a commercial real estate agent to secure proposals for purchase and development. This does not bind Council in any way to any course of action. Instead, the results will be presented to Councillors for their consideration on the property’s future. Once appointed, the real estate agent will make more information publicly available." Given that it will be for Councillors to determine the future of the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club site after the TfNSW lease expires on 31 July 2022 and given that while there was interest in the site, the fact remains that no formal expressions were received. Interestingly Council advise they had previously engaged with the community and identified tourist accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants and cafes, and residential accommodation as the preferred development options. The fact of the matter was that there were many other uses identified for the original building after it was purchased and the suggestion that the community had identified tourist accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants and cafes, and residential accommodation as the preferred development options makes a mockery of the actual survey results that suggested community rooms, wet areas for ceramics, ten pin bowling and so much more utilising the building that was celebrated as having been purchased before it was quickly declared by Council as not fit for use and requiring demolition. While the last mayor might have prattled on about the site being "A Gateway" it was former General Manager Jim Levy who first initiated the idea of the site being a bus terminal, shops, offices and accommodation above. That 'vision' still stands yet it is a vision that has long removed the community from being included in what they might want.
The image above is a suggestion of The Beagle . Batemans Bay is in desperate need of civic space and a reason to stop. Vesper Street, courtesy of the new bridge is a four lane concrete thunderdome and the Beach Road foreshore has become the focus for highrise accommodation.
I am hoping that this new Council can look at this from outside of the box and recognise that the purchase of the bowling club site might well have been the best investment the council made on behalf of the community that WASN'T about revenue.
Councillors have been encouraged to read the following articles for some background before receiving further "briefings" from Council staff: