THE legacy of late Mordialloc legend Jack Pompei could be in jeopardy at Pompei’s Landing amid a Kingston council push to seek expressions of interest in three leases on crown land along Mordialloc Creek at Pompei Bridge.
Jack’s son, Leon Pompei, currently runs part of the Pompei family business at the creek and also sells marine paints from a small shed on the land.
Jack Pompei’s estate is charged a peppercorn rent of $104 per year for each lease.
Jack Pompei, who died in 2008, was known as “Mr Mordialloc” and the custodian of Mordialloc Creek. A fisherman and boat builder, he received an OAM for services to marine search and rescue in Port Phillip Bay.
His wife, Gwen, passed away in June 2012. Council made its initial bid to put the Mordialloc creek leases out for tender two months after her death.
Council moved to seek potential bids for the prime creek-front strip in 2012, but postponed a decision on the matter to allow further consultation with the executors of Jack Pompei’s estate over the future use of the land. Jack’s son Steven and daughter Kath are the executors of the Pompei estate.
The issue was back on the agenda at this week’s council meeting.
A council officers report presented to council at the meeting recommended that “council undertakes an expression of interest campaign, open to the whole community, before making a determination on the matter”.
Councillors voted to delay starting an expression of interest process for at least two months so the Pompei family, including Leon, can present their future plans for the land strip to council.
Cr Rosemary West said she had spoken to one of the executors of Jack Pompei’s estate, Steven Pompei, who understood there was “an understanding” between council and Jack Pompei before he died that council would leave the leases with the Pompei family “as long as there was a Pompei family member to carry on these businesses”.
“I think that we need to think carefully before we proceed with the officers’ recommendation in this matter, which effectively means breaching a long-term understanding which I believe to have existed,” Cr West said.
She said it was important to the community to continue the tradition of boat building on the Pompei’s Landing site.
Cr West said officers were dealing with the issue as “a property matter” and not a “community development matter” and it should be dealt with “in a sensitive way”.
The News understands the executors of the estate are happy for the leases to be transferred into Leon Pompei’s name.
However, Cr John Ronke said he believed council had a statutory obligation to seek expressions of interest.
“Can we just award a lease or a licence to anybody without going through a process?”
Council property manager Julian Harvey said the leases at Pompei’s Landing, based on licences on crown land, can be renewed by Kingston Council for up to three years at a time without the need to carry out a public EOI process.
The council has renewed the lease on a nearby boat storage yard held by Pompeis of Mordialloc, a boatbuilding business run by Joe Pompei, who is Jack’s brother.
Leon Pompei said he wondered why some people at council seemed so keen to see Pompei’s Landing forced out of his family’s hands.
“I’ve always tried to be positive and have a good working relationship with council and would like to get back to having that,” he said.
More than 30 supporters of Leon Pompei attended this week’s council meeting to show councillors they would take a dim view of any attempt to evict Leon from the creek strip.
Leon said he had gathered more than 1500 signatures on a petition to give to council to try to convince councillors that Pompei’s Landing should continue to be looked after by Pompei family members.