New 5 year lease for Waratah Bay caravan park
AFTER a very tense time for annual and long-term site holders, South Gippsland Shire Council have unanimously voted to extend the lease of the Waratah Caravan Park to current lease holders Jim and Bernadette Harry.
“This is a beloved local feature,” said Cr Alyson Skinner. “Obviously this goes to the heart of community concerns.”
The current lease expires in December 2017 and Cr Lorraine Brunt acknowledges that it would not be a good time to end the lease.
“Change is coming though,” she said. “It is not going to stay the same. I told the three representatives from the caravan park that they need to position themselves over the next 5 years or whatever it might be. They have to be compliant.”
Sue Shergold who is a long-term site holder says she is very pleased with the outcome.
“It is a step in the right direction,” she said. “Everyone understands the compliance issues. I just hope discussion is fair and equitable. There needs to be give and take.”
Ray Argento has been down to the Caravan Park and is very familiar with it whereas according to Sue, CEO Tim Tamlin, and many of the other Councillors have never been there.
“How can they make these kind of decisions if they are not familiar with the park?” said Sue.
Over 1000 signatures were gathered on a petition presented to the Shire and Victorian Parliament.
Cr Skinner said, “We need to talk about the elephant in the room.”
She is talking about the taking over and the running of Yanakie and Port Welshpool caravan parks.
“Hopefully we have learnt a better way through,” said Lorraine Brunt.
“Do I regret it? I don’t know.”
Cr Brown said that council does not have the infrastructure to take the caravan parks on.
“Council has extreme difficulty running these parks,” agreed Cr McEwen. “We have to have a commercial, realistic lease to protect existing lessees.
Mayor Ray Argento said that Jim and Bernadette were there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“They work directly with tourists,” said Ray. “Jim is a builder and does a lot of the maintenance on the park. Bernadette is a nurse and assists people when they need it. They are quite capable of assisting Council to transition.”
He said the Shire was pleased to work with Harry Corporation to secure management of the Waratah Bay Caravan Park.
“Council understands the community sentiment to keep the Waratah Bay Caravan Park under private management and we hope that the negotiation of a new lease will mitigate some of these concerns.
“Our aim is to ensure the caravan park remains a viable council asset and we believe this lease will ensure financial sustainability for the future,” said the Mayor.
The extension and new five year lease will be presented for community comment from 31 July 2017.
Submissions can be made in writing to the Chief Executive Officer, Private Bag 4, Leongatha, 3953 or via email to [email protected] until 29 August. Submitters will have the opportunity to speak to their submission at a Special Committee of Council in a closed session if requested.
Submissions will be considered and determined at the 25 October Council meeting. Any contracts negotiated will need approval from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning before they can be finalised.