Geotechnical surveys at Mackay Park have begun as a final design for the much anticipated Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre moves forward.
Batemans Bay residents and visitors might notice equipment on site for the next two weeks as Mogo-based Sea to Summit Drilling conducts borehole testing to assess ground conditions.
The work is being overseen by the NSW Government’s Public Works Advisory, which has been appointed to help manage the design and construction of the new centre.
Mayor Liz Innes says Public Works Advisory collaborates with local councils and state agencies to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects.
“This is a large, multi-layered project, and we will benefit from their depth of experience and established network of professionals from all fields,” Cr Innes says.
Meanwhile, Council is finalising tender documents for the centre’s design after inviting Expressions of Interest from architects in February. Four shortlisted architects are expected to be invited to submit tenders for the project in the second half of June.
“We’re powering ahead with the planning process to ensure we’re as ready as we can be to build when the funding outcome is known,” the Mayor says.
“We already have $26 million in the kitty thanks to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Bega MP Andrew Constance, and we’re keeping up the pressure on the federal government to come to the party as well.”
The new aquatic facility will house four new pools including a new indoor heated pool, an indoor warm water program pool, a free-form indoor leisure pool with interactive water features, a heated indoor learn to swim pool, as well as a gym, wellness area, waterslides, and amenities.
The cultural facility, on the same site, will include a purpose-built exhibition and performance centre, as well as workshop and storage space that will serve the region’s 18 art, dance and theatre groups.
The $26 million from the NSW Government is made up of $18 million for the aquatic centre, and $8 million for the arts and cultural facility.
An extra $20 million is required to fulfil the vision; Council expects to hear the outcome of further grant applications by mid-2018.
“After more than 20 years of Batemans Bay residents calling [for] and fundraising for the development of an indoor aquatic centre and advocating for purpose-built arts and cultural facilities, we are now so close to seeing it happen,” Cr Innes says.
“We are now more than halfway to achieving our goal. I am confident that our other funding applications to the Australian Government will be just as successful.”
Some in the community have been critical of the plan to replace the existing 50-metre pool, which was opened in 1966, with a 25-metre pool. They continue to agitate on the issue with a further public meeting called for May 29.
Spokesperson for Our Town Our Say, Coral Anderson, says that 120 people attended the last meeting on February 15.
“However, their formal resolutions on the 50m pool issue were totally ignored by Eurobodalla Shire Council.
“Since then “Fight For Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool”, whilst applauding the concept of a multi-use aquatic and leisure centre at Mackay Park, has been indefatigable in its efforts to educate Council on the needs of more serious swimmers in Eurobodalla Shire,” Ms Anderson says.
The Our Town Our Say public meeting is on Tuesday, May 29 at 5:30 pm in the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club.
Cr Innes says options for long distance lap swimmers are being discussed and points to an idea raised by members of the Batemans Bay Swim Club.
“The provision of an ocean netted area may be an appropriate and more cost-effective alternative to the retention or refurbishment of the existing 50m pool at Batemans Bay,” she says.
“It would certainly be more affordable than including an indoor 50m pool in the proposed centre.
“It would also potentially be a great tourist drawcard as are similar netted swimming areas around Australia. I think this is an option worth exploring and discussing with our community.”
The Mayor says the Mackay Park Sunset Committee is being consulted during the process and is currently working with Council on developing a plan to engage with the community throughout the next part of the design phase.
*This article first appeared on RiotACT