Coast Guard move to Yacht Club ticked off

THE Yacht Club building is set to become home to the Coast Guard. Picture: Yanni

FRANKSTON Council has made the call to move the Coast Guard into the trouble plagued Yacht Club building.

Council voted on 14 October to “commit $400,000 to the 2020/21 budget from the strategic reserve to undertake fit out and associated building works to the first floor of the Frankston Yacht Club facility to provide permanent accommodation for [the Coast Guard] at the Frankston Yacht Club facility subject to an appropriate occupancy agreement and approvals.” 

The vote also confirmed that council will withdraw $8 million in ratepayer funding which had been allocated to help build the Coast Guard a new building and a safe boat refuge at Oliver’s Hill.

Council had lobbied the state and federal governments for matching commitments of over $8 million each for the project, but failed.

The Frankston Coast Guard said on social media that “we acknowledge all of the support that we have received and will continue to receive from Frankston City Council. We had tremendous support at the council meeting last Monday night from the community, emergency services, professional and recreational anglers, and the boating industry.”

“Council have decided that we are to move into some of the vacant area of the Frankston Yacht Club for long term occupancy after some modifications have been made. It is exciting and appropriate for a Coast Guard flotilla to be right on the beach,” they said.

“The cost of the safe boat refuge is far too much for council and the Frankston rate payers to bear alone. Much of the groundwork has now been down, and a task force will be formed to push this up to higher levels of government. This will not be a quick process, but we are in for the long haul. 

“This means that our primary rescue vessel The Spirit of Frankston will continue to operate out of Patterson Lakes Marina, and there is a plan developing to have our secondary rescue vessel Spirit of Frankston II housed closer to Frankston for rapid local deployment when tides and weather allow.”

Cr Glenn Aitken said at the 14 October council meeting that “we’re not going to build another standalone building at a cost of millions on millions of dollars, it’s not happening.”

The mayor Michael O’Reilly said that “some details still need to be worked through”, but that the plan was to move the Coast Guard into the bottom floor of the building by early 2021.

“This is a step in the right direction towards seeing his spectacular building being utilised to its full potential,” he said.

“For the safety of all marine users it is crucial that the volunteer Coast Guard are able to continue their operation and training activities, and this prime location on the waterfront will ensure that is the case.”

The Yacht Club building has proved to be a problem for council, mainly sitting vacant since 2016 despite upwards of $11 million being poured into works at the building. Negotiations to lease out a bottom floor section of the building hit a major snag in August when council confirmed that the building was affected by combustible cladding.

As part of the successful motion passed on 14 October, council will “continue to pursue a suitable tenant/s for the first floor and ground floor premises, alongside the FCG, once the building rectification works are completed”.

Council officers confirmed at the meeting that they had not discussed the Coast Guard’s move with the Yacht Club, which occupies the building, prior to making the decision.

Council’s vote also “noted the outcome of the assessment of alternate options for the safe boat refuge, including viable options for a safe boat refuge which have been identified at both Olivers Hill and Kananook Creek.” In a separate motion, councillors chose to reject the council officer’s recommendation to “not pursue development of boat mooring in Kananook Creek at this time due to the high estimated cost of the works required”, removing it from the motion before voting to “note the outcomes of the investigation into feasibility to reintroduce permanent boat moorings in Kananook Creek.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 21 October 2019

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