11 September 2019

Batemans Bay pool and art centre plans advance with financial concerns

| Ian Campbell
Join the conversation
Eurobodalla Council hope locals and visitors will be swiming in the new Batemans Bay Aquatic Centre within three years. Photo: pxhere.com

File pPhoto: pxhere.com

Long-running plans for an aquatic and cultural centre in Batemans Bay have advanced with Eurobodalla Councillors this week approving the development of detailed plans, but that next step comes with financial concerns and pressures.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Director of Planning Lindsay Usher says the community can now get a feel for the general design of the proposed Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre thanks to a video walkthrough of the combined pool and theatre space.

“The concept approved by council is the result of extensive community feedback. It takes the best from three alternate designs we put to the public earlier this year.” Mr Usher says.

Those who have followed the project will note that the approved design no longer includes a 10 lane 25-metre pool.

“The aquatic centre will include a heated eight-lane 25 metre lap pool, and water-program, leisure and learn-to-swim pools, plus a waterslide,” Mr Usher says.

“The theatre is a flexible performance space with retractable seating for 350, with attached arts, performance and amenities rooms.

“The recommended design outcome, in response to capital cost pressures, is a 25 metre pool that can be used as an 8 lane pool for competition swimming or can be reconfigured to be a 10 lane pool – lane width of 2 metres.

“This option provides a greater degree of flexibility while enabling the pool to meet the requirements for short course
championships. The black lines in the pool will be configured for the 8 lane layout.”

Click play to experience the video walkthrough…

The next phase of the project involves lodging a development application for determination by Council and the NSW Government’s Southern Regional Planning Panel, with a detailed design finalised prior to a tender process for the construction of the centre.

Funding of $51 million has been secured for the development – $25 million from the Australian Government, and $26 million from the NSW Government, plus $4 million committed by Council, a total of $55 million.

As one of three Councillors to vote against the motion this week, Pat McGinlay fears the numbers don’t stack up.

“Given that I know what two quantitative surveyors have told us it is fiscally irresponsible to proceed, Cr McGinlay says.

“There is a gap between the funding we have and the estimated cost of the project. I would rather take a step back and review where and how that gap in funding is going to be filled.

“I am not against the project, it will be wonderful, but mine is a cautionary approach.”

Councillors Phil Constable and Anthony Mayne also voted against the recommendations, Mayor Liz Innes was absent from the meeting.

Details of the quantity surveying estimates are not public, however, in his report to Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Usher says “The capital cost estimates have been used to inform the design process and manage the likely capital cost of the development. This has been challenging, given the strong construction market currently in existence, which is resulting in significant cost escalation across the construction industry.”

“If Council proceeds with this development there will be a competitive tender process for the construction. There is also likely to be competitive tender processes for the operation of the facility, or parts of the facility, dependent upon which management model is adopted by Council.

“Whilst significant reductions in cost have been achieved through the design process, further work will be required through the detailed design stage to attempt to further reduce the capital cost. In addition, Councillors have been briefed on, and will need to consider, additional funding sources for the project.

“The building will be something that the community can be proud of, providing much needed and expanded services to the community, services that have long been asked for,” Mr Usher says.

Cr McGinlay is concerned talk of increased costs sets Council on a path towards selling assets like the Moruya Racecourse and Batemans Bay Community Centre, “none of which has been approved yet,” he says.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Algernon Moncrieff11:06 am 02 Sep 19

Where are the meeting rooms ??? Why is there an exercise gym in this building ??? Councillors and the Mayor should all hang their heads in shame !!! The Council Project Officer did not even take the architects to see the meetings rooms we have in the present Community Centre. He admitted it. I know this because I was a community representative at one of the meetings when he admitted this. The architects looked blank then said they would go and look at the present Community Centre. We did not realise at that stage that the architects already had completed 3 designs for submission to Council !!! The architects have taken their cue from Council. This massive contempt by Council for ratepayers and residents is beyond belief. This Council and its project officers could not organise a pie stall, let alone a large McKay Park Community Centre. Shame, shame, shame Liz Innes and the lot of you !!!

Jeff de Jager8:56 am 30 Aug 19

The old bowling club was purchased over three years ago supposedly to build a “gateway development’ but this site isn’t where the proposed center will be! Go figure!
The development is still hoped to now be a “legacy” development but seems to fall short of present day needs let alone having any capacity for future growth!
Progressively, since an initial strategy report in February 2017, an incomplete business case and concept designs were prepared but the plans didn’t include an Olympic length pool, which the town now has, its community use spaces are too few and too small, and the performance space is also too small to lure star attractions – all things that the community has pointed out but ignored repeatedly by council. We see progressively more compromises being made in the component features ostensibly to meet the ill-informed initial grants.
It now appears there is a funding shortfall rumoured to be in excess of $10 million yet after all this time council still can’t say what the final cost will be nor if it will be affordable. Oddly the story line given two years ago for there not being a 50 metre pool or a larger performance space was that they would make the project unaffordable without yet another special rate increase! More compromises and increasing costs yet council won’t come clean!
The latest design is the best looking one yet but if it can’t be afforded, it should not proceed until it can be done properly in part if not in total.

peter Coggan10:46 pm 29 Aug 19

Plan D ( the 6th Concept Plan mind you!)is not costed. $4 million of taxpayers’ money has already been spent on this project. This is in addition to the $51 million grant monies sitting in the council’s bank account. An updated business case has not been presented as promised by the General Manager. Plan D passed & approved by a majority of councillors last Tuesday does not include an Olympic pool. The community is now excluded & total control of the Mackay Park Project now rests with the bureaucrats. When the community was asked for feedback in January 2019 the 50 m pool was not included as an option. Overwhelmingly a large majority of those who responded to this most recent council survey stated that they wanted a 50-metre pool included in the new complex. The Batemans Bay pool community as far back as 10 or 15 years ago maintained advocacy for a new indoor heated 50 m pool & more recently lobbied to replace the old 50m pool with a new Olympic pool. Council voted to bulldoze the old pool without any community consultation. NB the community responded by writing in their own responses for an Olympic pool on Concept Plans A, B & C even though the bureaucrats refused to include the people’s choice of a 50 m pool in the survey questions on these 3 concept plans!
The council claims that it fully consulted the community but that is not true. Council only did so AFTER they eliminated the possibility of ever including a new Olympic pool in any of the options. This was not a transparent or democratic process by any means. It was a matter of Batemans Bay, the most populous district in Eurobodalla, being bullied to endure 2 hr return trips to either Ulladulla or Narooma aquatic centres to access an Olympic pool for training, lap swimming, competitive school (11 local PSSA schools are excluded along with several colleges & high schools) district, interdistrict, state & even national carnivals are no more at Batemans Bay. The Batemans Bay Swimming Club is totally compromised: no 50 m pool!
Narooma is the council’s preferred centre for competitive swimming because the right-winged political group has the numbers in Council & they allegedly vote in accordance with the brief received from their public servants. Allegedly the 9 elected councillors are the puppets of the public servants rather than the masters of the public servants. It’s a sad scenario especially with an alleged potential massive budget blowout gap ie. in addition to the $51 million grant monies already in the bank it is alleged that Plan D will need an additional $10 to $20 million more if it is to be built that is without a 50 m pool of course but with 5 other uncosted water bodies and an oversized new gym, hardly required given that BB has 6 gyms already, each struggling to make ends meet. The questions are 1. why the blowout & 2. can the ratepayers afford the secret annual recurrent running costs?
A senior Director said at the Council Meeting on Tuesday that the public servants would have to prioritise essential inclusions when another new Design Plan, Plan E, was issued for tenders. Interesting that the community has no say or input into what the essential inclusions list will be or in what is to be excluded. I’d start by including an outdoor Olympic pool & excluding the gym. Councillors have failed to focus & did not give this now alleged $70 million project the due diligence it rightly deserved. They have not consulted the community but given them what the public servants’ brief instructed them to do ie.
“They will get what we give them not what they want!”
One Councillor stated during the debate at last Tuesday’s Council Meeting that if the gap appeared to be insurmountable then her colleagues could try their luck in her abandoned gold mine & if that fails to produce pay dirt then they could send the $51 million back. That is $26 million to the NSW Government & $25 million to the Federal Government. This doesn’t sound sensible, feasible or in any way logical to me! In fact, I think the whole saga of the Mackay Park Project in Batemans Bay needs an independent enquiry. Accountability needs to be sheeted home! Allegedly the PerfEx group are not happy with the theatre & gallery spaces but they can give their own opinions. $70 million is a reasonable amount of money that if used wisely should deliver an aquatic/arts complex that can serve our community now & long into the future. This Mackay Park Project promises to give the Coordinator Stephen Phipps some big headaches! He doesn’t have costings or a start date and the building costs are escalating according to the Senior Director of Building & Infrastructure! We may just end up with another gym or a white elephant? Heaven forbid!
What do you think?

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.