Long-time indoor pool campaigners have rejected complaints the community wasn’t consulted about Mackay Park precinct plans.
Community consultation – or lack thereof – was a hot topic at a meeting on Friday, November 17, about the proposed Batemans Bay indoor aquatic centre.
The community meeting with Bega MP and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance and Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes was organised by the Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50-metre Pool group.
Group member Peter Coggan said Eurobodalla Shire Council was not listening to the community on the draft concept plan presented to the NSW Government for funding.
“It was knocked out before the community had a chance to comment,” he said.
However, Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee chair Carolyn Harding said, in six years of seeking community input, the November 17 meeting was the first time so many people had spoken up.
“We have sent out letters of invitation to meetings over the last six years, and I don’t remember many of the user groups here today coming to give their opinion,” she said.
“We had few responses from schools and little from the swimming club.
“There have been plenty of opportunities for engagement through our committee, and people haven’t taken that.”
Mr Constance said any dissatisfaction with council’s level of engagement with the community about the concept plan was due to pressure to quickly make a funding submission to the state government.
“The reason the concept plan was pushed through quickly is because the money is available now, which is why any contention around consultation may come about,” Mr Constance said.
“In fairness, there have been processes in play, and I am very pleased that council engaged appropriate skills in consultancy.
“I see the challenge between people wanting to swim laps and people wanting hydrotherapy and children’s learn to swim pools.
“Everyone might not be happy with the decision that’s made at the end of the day, but everyone should feel consulted.”
Mrs Harding said the committee would prefer a 50-metre pool, but would accept a 25-metre one if the alternative was going without an indoor pool at all.
Cr Innes reiterated her commitment to fiscal responsibility, and desire for unity.
“I certainly don’t want to be in a place where I’m at loggerheads with my community,” she said.
“But I also have to be responsible.”
Jacki Harding emphasised the funding might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an indoor pool of any length in Batemans Bay.
“In 25 years of being on the indoor aquatic centre committee, every mayor we had would shake (campaigner) Kevin’s (Carmody) hand and say ‘you will have your pool in my term’,” she said.
“I don’t want Liz to be in that position as well.”
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