Infrastructure Minister and Bega MP Andrew Constance chaired a charged meeting about the proposed Batemans Bay indoor aquatic center on November 17.
Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes and Councillor Rob Pollock attended the meeting at the Batemans Bay Community Centre with groups including the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Center committee, Eurocoast Triathlon Club, and Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m pool.
Eurobodalla Shire Council has applied for NSW Government funding to develop aquatic and arts facilities at Mackay Park.
The draft aquatic centre plan includes toddler, learn-to-swim and hydrotherapy facilities, but the current 50-metre pool (open six months of the year) would be replaced with a 25-metre one, to be open year round.
The beginning of the meeting saw Mr Constance break up several heated discussions, saying “if I’m going to chair this meeting, I’m going to do it properly,” before weighing in on the debate and calling for unity.
“I think this is the only time you will ever see funds like this going into regional NSW,” he said.
“It’s a small window of opportunity, and it’s competitive.
“It is vital that council comes forward with a project that stacks up financially, which the current proposal does.”
Mr Constance praised the long-running work of the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Center committee, which has consulted with community groups and provided information to council.
He said he understood some people may feel there had not been adequate consultation, but was confident the council had done what it could in the time available, and that further consultation before submitting the concept plan could have resulted on missing out on the funding altogether.
Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m pool’s Peter Coggan said the group was told by a council community liason officer that the decision had been made to go with a 25m pool without a vote.
Councillor Rob Pollock said the accusation was “categorically false”.
He recommended anyone with concerns “go and look at the minutes”.
Mr Constance said the option for a 50m pool had not been ruled out, but it would depend on funds available and what tenders were offered once the concept had been approved and funds granted.
Cr Innes emphasised that ongoing running costs also had to be considered.
“It is a nonsense to say that if we get more funding, we can’t add more elements,” she said.
“But I don’t want to give people false hope. We might end up looking at a shortfall of funding.
“Currently, the ratepayer subsidises $6.50 of every pool visit.”
More coverage of the meeting to come online and in Wednesday’s Bay Post / Moruya Examiner.
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