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Statement from Mayor Liz Innes to ‘Our Town, Our Say’ meeting

Thursday 15 February 2018

I’m sorry I can’t be at the meeting tonight but I have a prior speaking commitment with the Moruya Chamber of Commerce.

I want to assure you that Council is listening to the views of individuals and groups who want a 50-metre pool included in the proposed aquatic centre. However, we believe a 50-metre pool is not affordable or justified at this time.

Council is proceeding with an aquatic, arts and leisure centre that meets the needs of many people and groups in our community without imposing an additional financial burden or being too costly for everyone to use. The aquatic area will include a 25-metre lap swimming pool, a warm-water therapy pool, a learn-to-swim pool, and a toddler pool, along with kids’ splash play area and waterslides.

We can provide a wonderful indoor aquatic centre in a financially responsible way, but still allow for future expansion should the need in our community grow. Council resolved last year that the centre will be designed in a way that allows for future expansion.

However, including a 50-metre pool in the concept would have weakened our business case, undermining the strength of our grant applications and the likelihood of securing the government funding we need to build the centre.

As well as listening to the views of people who support a 50-metre pool, I am also hearing loud and clear from people in Batemans Bay and certainly those in the south of the shire that they want Council to be financially responsible. There is absolutely no appetite in the community for the delivery of the centre to come off the back of a rate increase.

Council will advertise an Expression of Interest in February as the start of a two-stage process to find an architect to design the centre. While we haven’t secured funding yet, it is important to keep the project moving ahead so that when we hear we’ve been successful with our funding applications we can be ready to start work as quickly as possible. The design principles we’ve developed for the first stage of the design tender process require architects to address future expansion opportunities.

As you know, without significant government funding this project won’t go ahead. We have three funding applications currently under assessment:

  • We made it to the Stage 2 of the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund grant program. Council applied for $8 million.
  • We expect to hear about progress with the NSW Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund grant program in February. Council applied for $28.3 million.
  • We submitted an application to the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund for $10 million.

Our most recent news about the project is that we are currently in discussions with the NSW Roads and Maritime Service regarding the possible leasing of the old bowling club land as a site office and equipment storage area for the construction of the new Batemans Bay bridge.

In closing I encourage you to get behind this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the government funding we need to build the Batemans Bay Arts, Aquatic and Leisure Centre.