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Joan Armstrong - 12 February 2019

Joan Armstong addressed council regarding costs associated with the redevelopment of the entire Mackay Park Precinctat the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 February 2019.

My name is Joan Armstrong and I'm here today to talk about costs associated with the redevelopment of the entire Mackay Park Precinct.

There are many, many unanswered questions. I raise the following:

It is believed that it has already cost the community $4 million to have all the concept plans, consultants' fees, including, flight and accommodation expenses etc. etc. from about 2005 to date.  Yet we are still at the concept plan stage with potential further expenses in relation to the drawing up of yet more concept plans including architects and consultants' fees.

Could council please confirm the costs to the community to get to this stage and the predicted future costs involved?

In relation to the Mini Golf, the mayor has advised the Mini Golf has to go so the new leisure centre can be built, then she says council have listened to the community and will try to fit the Mini Golf in to Mackay Park down the track, but then we hear that council intends not to renew its lease and are now in negotiations to work out the settlement cost after deciding to end the lease for the Mini Golf at Mackay Park.

Precisely what are council's intentions for the future of the Mini Golf and what will be the total cost to the community to either relocate and/or pay out the remainder of its lease should it decide to relocate outside of the shire if a suitable site is not found within the Eurobodalla Shire?

I am informed that the drilling team on-site next to the Mini Golf is finding sand, more sand and then more sand with a very shallow water table similar to what was discovered over the road at the old primary school site. I was further advised by the project co-ordinator at the Council information kiosk in front of witnesses that Council is going to need more than $51 million to build this and the foundations will need a lot more money.

Could Council please provide the community with an estimate of these extra costs, the revised total cost and how these costs will be covered?  Can this information be disseminated publicly?

According to the 2018 Recreation and Open Space Strategy, council intends to rationalise and reclassify approximately 30 blocks of land in the Shire from 'community use' to 'operational' with the intention of selling.

Council's project co-ordinator advised that the sum of $51 m will not be enough to cover the costs of the project as is and that 'something will have to go'. Is it council's intention that the proceeds of the sale of these blocks of land will be used to prop up the projected blow out in costs of the proposed project?

When will council provide to the community the exact difference between the construction costs of a 25m pool and a 50m pool in the current footprint?

I draw to council's attention that the moneys associated with this project are in fact not council's money but rather money collected by way of rates and taxes from members of the community.  Therefore, council's claim that certain information is classified as 'commercial in confidence, has no credibility.

In conclusion, I would like to express my disappointment with council's poor attitude and disregard for community sentiment and lack of legitimate consultation.

This project has not been well received by the broader community.   Do you councillors intend to continue ignoring those who you purport to represent?

I trust that you councillors will honour the commitment you made in your Oath of Office at the beginning of your term.

Councillors, the community awaits your response.

Council's reply

In regard to the matters you raised, I offer the following advice:

The financial outlays from about 2005 which relate to the development of Mackay Park, equate to an approximate cost of $380,000.  This figure includes the precursor work regarding Hanging Rock and the work undertaken by Otium in developing the business case, which included some high level concept plans.

The concept plan stage has only been developed to a detailed level since Council engaged NBRS Architecture.  For the 2018/19 financial year, the planned expenditure for Mackay Park is estimated at $3 million, which includes:

  • Project Coordination
  • Architecture costs
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Geotechnical Investigations
  • Aboriginal Heritage Investigation
  • Development Application preparation and application fees

This $3 million expenditure does not impact upon the anticipated $51 million of grant funding.

The current Batemans Bay Mini Golf (Mini Golf) is in the footprint of the proposed Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre.  The Mini Golf facility has a lease from Council as the Crown Land manager, which expires on 30 June 2022.  Council is negotiating with the Mini Golf owners to acquire this lease.

Council recognises the importance of the Mini Golf facility as a local tourist attraction in Eurobodalla. Discussions held with the lessee have included consideration of an alternate site to relocate the business and assistance that Council could provide through the development application process, if the operator found another site on private land.  Any subsequent actions by either the owners of the Batemans Bay Mini Golf and/or Council is dependent on the final outcome of the lease acquisition negotiations.

Council has undertaken extensive geotechnical investigations at the proposed site for the Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre. The findings have shown that there is a mix of sand, estuarine silts, estuarine silty sands, silty clays and meta-sedimentary rock. Groundwater has been intersected at various depths depending on the location of each borehole. This is not unexpected given the proximity of the site to the McLeods Creek/Clyde River system.

Regarding your statement about advice given to you from Council’s Project Coordinator, I have spoken with him and he considers that he has either been misquoted or misinterpreted.  I apologise for any confusion in this regard.

Council has identified that new income streams could come from the lease or sale of the existing community centre and visitor information centre, as well as opportunities to progress the development of the former bowling club site (currently in use by NSW Roads and Maritime Services as a construction compound for the new Batemans Bay bridge). No other revenue sources have been identified nor allocated to the Mackay Park project.

Council has taken its obligations regarding community consultation on this project very seriously.  The avenues of consultation include the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Sunset Committee which comprised of a number of representatives from various community associations; engagement with over 100 focus groups/individuals; provision of information on Council’s website; Council meetings, which are open to the public and web cast; and more recently the Batemans Bay, Narooma and Moruya kiosks and the online surveys. Many suggestions made through these various forums have contributed to changes in the overall scope of the project.