SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council is to take over management of the Yanakie and Long Jetty (Port Welshpool) caravan parks.
At a closed session of the April meeting, Council voted to end the Expression of Interest process for the re-leasing of the parks, currently on 21-year leases, and to take over their management. The lease of Yanakie Caravan Park is up in September, while the Long Jetty Caravan Park lease ends in November.
The move comes as the cash-strapped Council investigates potential money-making opportunities.
Council property manager Chris Van Der Ark explained, “Council has the opportunity to once again manage these parks and return profits that can be reinvested in them. We will be striving to build an improved tourism experience consistent with Council’s economic development and tourism strategy.”
Ms Van Der Ark said that Council has a history of involvement with the four crown land caravan parks for which it is the Committee of Management and previously managed all four parks within the shire – Yanakie, Long Jetty, Waratah Bay and Korumburra.
She said that Council is mindful of the sensitivity of its decision to resume management of the parks and any impact this may have on the existing operators.
“Extensive work has been carried out in recent times on future development and management options for these Parks. Our research has given us a good understanding of what is required for them to eventually perform at an optimum level.”
Down at Port Welshpool the lessee of Long Jetty Caravan Park was philosophical about Council’s decision to take over management of the park. “I’m disappointed, but they have every right to do so,” said Geoff Clark.
The reaction from Tony Holgate, who manages Yanakie Caravan Park, was much stronger. “We’re extremely disappointed that the council has taken this action, especially that we were not informed Council was considering this before we lodged our Expression of Interest, which cost us $20,000.”
Ms Van Der Ark said that the Expressions of Interest process had been initiated under the previous Council. It is the new Council, which was voted in last October, which has determined to once again manage the caravan parks itself and not lease them out.
“While we have some of the necessary skills and operational tools, we will employ caretakers to manage the day to day running of these Parks,” she said.
A high percentage of the sites at both caravan parks are let to holidaymakers on an annual basis. There are also a few permanent residents at Long Jetty and both parks offer tourist sites, some of which have cabins – 17 at Yanakie and nine at Long Jetty. Council will be negotiating the purchase of these cabins.
“We encourage annual site holders and visitors to talk to us about any concerns they might have,” said Ms Van Der Ark. “We will be preparing information leaflets for them and are encouraging annual site holders to support the transition process which should be completed by September for Yanakie and November for Long Jetty.”
Ms Van Der Ark welcomes enquires. She can be contacted by email at [email protected].