OVER 100 people turned up to voice their concerns about the draft proposal to build a Marina on the west end of Port Welshpool next to the Long Jetty. The Community Meeting was held at the Port Welshpool Ferry Terminal on Thursday night January 11.
Organiser of the meeting, Ros McPherson said that people come to Port Welshpool not because it’s glitzy but because they recognise the wow factor when they see the long jetty, the water and the beach with the Prom in the background.
“Families have been coming here for years because it’s a safe beach for children. People regularly walk the length of the beach, under the jetty and beyond, a lot of them with their dogs,” she said.
“Some sit and enjoy the vast unspoiled beauty of this hidden pearl we have here. After so many years it is such a great joy to see the Long Jetty being restored.
“Then bang with no warning just before Christmas a rushed, unprofessional bomb shell was dropped with a lack of time for viewing and submission.”
She went on to say that the community believe the boat ramp should stay where it is and that the larger boats should go to Barry Beach. They want the Museum where it is, and they would like to see the west side of the Long Jetty developed for visitors and kayakers, with toilets, a rotunda, picnic tables and a board walk through to the water.
“Leave the bay alone,” she said.
There was a loud round of applause after her comments.
Councillor Ray Argento was the only councillor to turn up to the meeting with Crs Rich and Skinner cancelling at the last minute.
Mayor Lorraine Brunt had a prior commitment.
It was left to Gippsland Shire Council’s Planning Manager Paul Stampton to listen to the concerns of those present and to respond to their questions which he heroically did.
Cr Argento said that Paul had returned from annual leave to attend the meeting.
Paul told those gathered that 3500 letters were sent out to Welshpool, Port Welshpool and surrounding area residents which was met with howls of protest.
“I assure you we sent them,” he said. “We do have a problem with Australia Post in modern times.
“The real driver for this proposed Marina is economic development and safety,” he said.
Local Graham Thomas said that they need to get rid of the roll on roll off.
Another way to address safety concerns was put forward by Vern Suckling.
“Traffic management is needed,” he said. “Put a person in a high vis jacket to deal with it.”
Rocco Maruzza said he had been in Port Welshpool for 45 years and suggested more use be made of Barry Beach. “It wouldn’t cost much. You could just increase the boat ramp,” he said.
“The roll on roll off should be shifted.”
Paul Stampton said Council doesn’t disagree with Rocco and that Council doesn’t always agree with Gippsland Ports.
Rocco would like to see the Marina put on the site where Gippsland Ports now resides, and other speakers agreed with him.
Others present suggested developing the Marina to the east of Port Welshpool. Many indicated they are opposed to it being to the east.
Resident Mary Agar had something to say regarding economic development.
“The Long Jetty will bring in a lot of tourists,” she said. “We could also develop an aquarium.”
Adam Leeworthy said in colourful terms that he is 100% opposed to the Marina being along the beach next to the Long Jetty. “It is just something so special.”
He too was met with a rousing response from the crowd.
Paul Stampton said that it’s not just Council but Gippsland Ports, DELP and Transport Safety Victoria who are all involved in the proposed Marina development.
“In their eyes it’s not working at the moment,” he said. “There is a new Board at Gippsland Ports and they are open minded.
“Ray and I will reflect back to them what has happened in this meeting.”
He encouraged everyone present to write in more submissions even if they have already done so.
Cr Ray Argento said to keep the submissions coming in right up until January 23.
Ros McPherson thanked everyone for coming and said it had been a feisty debate.
Council has obtained funding from Regional Development Victoria and commissioned Water Technology, in collaboration with Meinhardt, Essential Economics, and GroupGSA to prepare the Precinct Plan.