GENEROUS pledges totalling $6 million have given a massive boost to the campaign to restore the Port Welshpool Long Jetty.
Leading the backers is the member for Gippsland South and Deputy Premier of Victoria, Peter Ryan.
“We’re going to do this,” Mr Ryan announced to the hundred strong crowd gathered in the old ferry terminal building on Monday night to hear what options the Port Welshpool Long Jetty Project Control Group had come up with for the fast-deteriorating structure. “It will get done.”
Mr Ryan confirmed the $3 million he promised towards the restoration of the jetty prior to the election and, to excited applause, said the state coalition government would contribute a further $2 million to the project.
South Gippsland Shire Council, he added, would kick in a further million dollars. A smiling chief executive officer Tim Tamlin nodded his agreement.
Earlier speakers, however, had indicated that a figure of around $11 million would be required to satisfactorily restore the jetty. Mr Ryan even had an answer for that. He said that his federal counterpart, the Liberal member for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, had assured him that “going into the next election he will match our $5 million”.
Mr Ryan added that he had “a good working relationship” with Simon Crean, the federal Labor minister with responsibility for regional development.
“Given the commitment from the state government and local government, I will go to Simon and say it’s a worthy project to be supported by a federal government of any colour!” vowed Mr Ryan.
Mr Brad Ostermeyer from Regional Development Victoria, who chairs the Port Welshpool Long Jetty Project Control Group, explained that the group, which includes several community representatives, had worked with Gippsland Ports to see what would be necessary to restore the jetty. A range of assessments, from technical to heritage, were commissioned and carried out. (These completed reports can be viewed on the South Gippsland Shire Council website.)
Mr Ostermeyer said the project control group had come up with ten options, ranging from full restoration of the jetty at a cost in excess of $18 million down to minimal restoration only as far as 30 metres past the first gate – costed at $3 million. The group has selected two particular options for further consideration.
One option is to rebuild the jetty so that it can safely be used by pedestrians (and the occasional emergency vehicle) past the second gate to the 1982 low landing and turning bay extension, possibly rehabilitating the section burnt in the February 2010 fire. The estimated cost of this would be $10,100,000 for a timber deck ($10,400,000 if the burnt section was rehabilitated) or $9,400,000 ($9,700,000) with a concrete deck.
The second option is to restore the entire jetty except its 60-metre 1982 extension at a cost of $12,500,000 for a timber deck or $11,600,000 for a concrete deck.
Gary Lugton from Gippsland Ports gave an overview of the technical assessments, pointing out along the way that the assessors had concluded that all the timber in the structure (which was built in 1939) was beyond its useful life, much deterioration was due to termite attack and many of the piles required replacement, with more deterioration the further out you go.
Timber or concrete – the material for the rebuild was one of the hottest topics of discussion when meeting facilitator, Llew Vale, invited questions from the audience.
Several speakers reminded those present that not only would a concrete decked structure cost less, maintenance and operating costs would be cheaper (roughly $100,000 per annum compared to $150,000 for timber).
Timber/concrete, fully/partly restore – it is up to the community to say what they want for the Port Welshpool Long Jetty.