Maureen Searson - 12 December 2017
Maureen Searson made the below comments at the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 December 2017.
Recently I was asked why Fight for Batemans Bays 5Om Pool feels the Mackay Park Precinct Aquatic plan is inadequate? Firstly, we believe the Mackay Park Precinct Aquatic plan is more than adequate in providing year-round health and access for hydrotherapy, learn to swim, disability, kids splash park, programs etc, which is why we wholeheartedly support the Aquatic/Arts facility. It is exactly what the community needs! Where we believe the project is not adequate, is in the reduction of the SOm capacity to only 25m and doing so, without prioritising engagement with Batemans Bay’s major pool user groups.
Most community members discovered in August, that the 5Om pool was being replaced with a 25m pool in the new Aquatic facility. Council did not inform the local schools or Batemans Bay Swimming Club before they sought their endorsement via letter, for the Aquatic Centre re development. Refer to Bay Post 4th December, 2017.
Since the Extraordinary Council meeting on August 29th, we have been contacted by local people and people retired to Batemans Bay and surrounds, with experience in Federal Finance, a former NSW manager of a very large Australian franchise, former public servants, retired school teachers, retired sports teachers as well as long-time swimmers, parents, grandparents, swimming teachers, school teachers, SLSC members and people who may not use the pool, but understand that a 5Om capacity provides an important service to the whole community. Not one of them believes that Council is making the right decision by downsizing from 50m capacity to 25m capacity for current and future use.
With 78% percent of the population between north of Moruya to north of Batemans Bay in the fastest growing shire in NSW and Batemans Bay as Eurobodalla Shire's "Gateway" town, replacing the 50m capacity with only 25m capacity is a backward step.
Notably the community have already conceded to the Aquatic/Arts facility being coupled together to save money. It is no secret that PerFEX have concerns about the design of the Arts facility and want to make changes to meet their needs.
Why should the community concede further to giving away half the pool capacity that we have because of the generosity of a philanthropic donor, available to be used by everyone who wants to use, for the last 51 years? Recently Tracey Menzies AIS coach and former coach to Ian Thorpe visited Batemans Bay. In Ms Menzies experience working in both 25m and 50m pool she says 'if you want something for the whole community you can use a 50m pool that you can break down.' Refer to Bay Post 24th November, 2017
Recently the NSW Liberal Government dropped a bombshell on the people of NSW that they plan to demolish two Sydney stadiums and rebuild them using nearly $3bn of the public's money. The lobbying of the SCG Trust has proved powerful. If only the community in Batemans Bay had the same lobbying power as a group of high wealth individuals from Sydney who believe they are entitled to spend our money. Yet our community is fighting to keep a 50m capacity in the Mackay Park Precinct re development to meet the needs of the whole community.
Community cohesion is important and in Council's interest. We are concerned that community cohesion is being undermined by Councillors who are determined that "Batemans Bay will never get a 50m pool." Point 3.1.2 of the Local Government Act states - "The institutions of Government and the officials and agents of Government exist for the public, to serve the interests of the public." Council why use this wonderful opportunity to build a facility that will not be in the interests of the whole community?