Councillor Catch Up – Batemans Bay Wrap Up

The monthly Councillor Catch Up took place among the hustle and bustle of the Village Centre Batemans Bay on Wednesday 20 March.

From 10.30am – 12.30pm, councillors caught up with people passing by and others who made a special visit to ask about pathways, Surfside erosion, the Bay Pavilions, and bats.

Councillors in attendance were: Mayor Mathew Hatcher, Tubby Harrison and Alison Worthington.

One gentleman kicked off the conversation with questions on the coastal erosion at Surfside. He felt the community would appreciate an update, to find out who won the tender to remove the asbestos pipes and to know that someone is on the job.

When public areas are closed for safety reasons, he felt fencing and barricades could be more effective.

As soon as information comes to hand about the asbestos removal, information will be shared with the community.

Mayor Hatcher spoke with a resident of Lilli Pilli who wants to subdivide his property but gave up some years ago. He wanted to have a chat with the Mayor who organised a meeting with the planning department.

Councillor Harrison greeted a member from Batemans Bay Lions Club, Trisha Taylor, who was on her way to a fundraising stall.

She asked councillors if there could be a commemorative plan for people of significance in our community.

“One of our dear members Jackie is losing her battle with cancer and we would love to see her recognised with a memorial tree at the botanic gardens, or a plaque on a walkway. Our Lions Club will contribute to the cost,” Ms Taylor said.

Cr Harrison said it was a lovely idea: “I will find out what Council has in place for memorials of community members. I would love to see a community walk somewhere in our shire.”

Ms Taylor said Jackie has been a force behind the Lions Club and other community groups like the Batemans Bay Seahawks.

“She is the never-ending Duracell bunny – always with her hands out looking for donations over the past 30 years,” Ms Taylor said.

With upgrades to Hanging Rock Sporting Complex on its way – home of the Batemans Bay Seahawks – Cr Harrison thought Jackie’s recognition could be incorporated. Councillors supported exploring the idea.

“Or perhaps a memorial avenue could be included in Council’s urban tree strategy – it would be dual purpose,” Councillor Worthington suggested.

Next in the conversation lineup was a resident from Maloneys Beach who asked Cr Worthington when the final piece of footpath would be completed along Northcove Road.

They talked about how challenging it would be to design, incorporating two blind corners, but also that it was much needed for pedestrians’ safety since the informal stairway was closed.

The resident was appreciative of the footpath work done so far and mentioned how great it was to see so many elderly residents using it.

From footpaths to disability parking, another resident questioned the Bay Pavilions disability parking: “Why is it not directly in front of the entrance?” she asked councillors.

The resident thought Council was not meeting the vision of diversity and inclusion as mentioned in the Community Strategic Plan.

“I gave my feedback in Council’s recent survey, and I also suggested there could be a cost benefit analysis to change the Bay Pavilions gym to include an outdoor pool. It would get more people in, and aqua aerobics classes could expand so there’s no cutoff to join.”

Cr Worthington said Council was continuing its analysis of the Bay Pavilions and is preparing a sustainability plan to guide future management of the facility.

The conversation transitioned to the topic of street trees, with the resident asking why Council doesn’t have a street tree policy – making sure trees are included in the planning of housing or commercial developments and road upgrades.

“Trees are important for shade and worth more standing than being chopped down,” the resident said.

Cr Worthington replied: “The general manager is working on this – he actually noticed himself when he moved here and wants our Council have a tree policy.”

“It won’t happen overnight, but we do have a lot of community members advocating for it.”

Meanwhile, Cr Harrison was in a conversation with a Catalina resident about flying-foxes.

“Will Council move them on again? My daughter can’t walk through the Water Gardens anymore and their poo is stripping paint on the house,” the resident said.

Tubby said there were resources available on Council’s website on how to live near a flying-fox camp.

Residents can borrow a high-pressure cleaner from the depot or pick up odour pots for free. On Council’s website, there are bat poo videos and FAQ’s. Flying foxes also tend to move on themselves in the cooler months of June and July.

Following up with Council’s environment team, currently there are more than 3000 flying foxes at the Water Gardens camp.

They are managed in line with the flying-fox management plan, which outlines the level of risk to the public and the triggers for different management activities – moving them on is the most extreme management activity.

In 2017, Council took the extreme measure to disperse 300,000 flying-foxes living in the camp.

The perennial issue of dogs on beaches popped up in conversation. A Surfside resident was frustrated, saying a dog-free beach frequently has dogs walked on it.

They also mentioned multiple residents were compiling a neighbourhood noise diary of barking dogs, hoping further action will be taken.

Members of Maloneys Beach Residents Association finished off the catch up with some comments on beach access.

There were different perspectives shared on the petition to reinstate access to the beach, which was received at this week’s Council meeting.

Some points made from residents at the catch up were:

  • An appreciation of fewer jet skis in the local waters since the beach access for cars closed.
  • Trusting that councillors will fact check the claims made by the presenters of the petition.
  • Residents appreciated a reduction in the number of fires and fireworks on the beach.
  • Some residents felt National Parks’ consultation around all works associated with the Murramarang Walk was sufficient and commenced before Covid restrictions. They mentioned National Parks responded to concerns about signage and photo boards and modified their plans accordingly.

“I also had three different residents mention how great Council’s communications has been – they loved the informal pop-ups and how accessible council staff were,” Mayor Hatcher said.

The next Councillor Catch Up will be held at Narooma Plaza on Wednesday 17 April, 10.30am – 12.30pm. For all upcoming catch ups visit the Councillor webpage.

Since August 2023, we publish a summary of the Catch Up conversations on our website.

/Public Release. View in full here.