Tuross Boatramp and pontoon push by community
A motion from the Tuross Head Progress Association at yesterday's meeting might be the catalyst required for Eurobodalla Council to begin the transition from the existing Tuross Head boat ramp to the community selected Option1 alternate boatramp that was agreed to as the preferred location for a town boatramp that provided improved parking and improved access to the Tuross Lake waterway. In October 2015 the Tuross Head Fishing Club sought support to extend the existing boating jetty at Lavender Bay in Tuross in an easterly direction to accommodation additional vessels. They envisage a similar solution to that of Moruya’s Preddies Wharf which incorporates a floating pontoon attached to the jetty with a swing access walkway. This would provide improved facilities for children and those with restricted mobility or a disability. They advised Council that a funding application to NSW Maritime under the “Better Now” program required Council support in the first instance as funding is required from both agencies. Council's response was: Council undertook maintenance dredging at the ramp on 7 &8 September, 2015. The positive feedback from the Tuross Head Country Club -Fishing Club on the maintenance dredging, access ladder and tie-off poles is greatly appreciated. Council is seeking an extra permit from Marine Parks to extend the maintenance dredging from the ramp to the east along the rockwall. Council will continue to provide updates on the maintenance dredging to the fishing club, THPA, THBOA and TLPG as information comes to hand.The request for an extension to the existing timber jetty, and to support a grant application for same, is being investigated. The site is problematic in terms of provision of a floating pontoon due to the sand build up at this site. Typically grants under the Boating Now Program have required a contribution from Council. We will remain in close contact with the fishing club Unfortunately Council has NOT remained "in close contact with the fishing club" and each time the proposed jetty has been raised it has been met with a non-committal response. Back in 2013 the then mayor, Lindsay Brown, said "boating and fishing are significant attractions on Tuross Lake and a more permanent, cost-effective solution for the boat ramp needs to be found."Late last year, council allocated $10,000 to maintain the channel around the boat ramp to make sure it was accessible over summer," "The ramp is regularly affected by sand build-up which makes boats difficult to launch." When options were put to the community they chose the Development of an alternate boat ramp on community land adjacent to Hector McWilliam Drive and opposite Lake Street intersection (est. $2.05M) The Minutes of the Ordinary Council Meeting of Eurobodalla Shire Council held on Tuesday 10 December, 2013 record a motion being passed that Council: 1.Retain the existing boat ramp at Tuross Head off Nelson Parade; 2.Undertake channel maintenance at the existing Tuross Head boat ramp prior to Christmas 2013 with funding to be identified from savings as part of the December quarterly review; 3.Undertake channel maintenance at the existing Tuross Head boat ramp on an ‘as required basis’ and budget to undertake this once per annum; 4.Undertake further discussions with NSW Fisheries and Marine Parks to identify viable sites for the deposition of dredging sands within the Tuross Lake/Ocean system; 5.Retain the long term option to consider constructing an extra boat ramp with associated parking and other facilities on the reserve off Hector McWilliam Drive (opposite Lake Street); 6.Consider an allocation of funding (against other priorities) for the survey investigation and design of a new ramp and associated facilities when determining the budget across the Delivery Program period. (The Motion on being put was declared CARRIED) At the time many residents considered the projected costings of the options offered as being "gold plated". This reference to "gold plating" was repeated on Monday Nov 21st, 2016 during a village meeting with Andrew Constance where he advised that quite recently a boatramp was installed at Kiah for $500,000 Each year the Tuross Head Fishing Club hosts the Annual Flathead and Bream challenge which is a recreational catch and release fishing event that sees 250 fishers and their families arrive in the town. They inject a much needed $100,000 into the local community by way of purchases, employment and accommodation. A first rate event made accessible by a third rate facility. The parking area for the volume of fishers is inadequate, the boatramp barely copes, the existing jetty fails to accommodate more than one boat at a time and, if it wasn't for volunteer traffic wardens the entry and egress during the event would be a shambles. Eurobodalla Council however is indifferent to all of this. Their strategy for keeping the boatramp open is purely reactive and any conversation regarding a jetty extension that might provide ease of disabled access, and ease of use of the facility is all but ignored. The Tuross Head Progress Association and the Tuross Head Business Owners Association are right behind Max Castle and his Tuross Head Fishing Club in asking Council to stop sitting on its hands and to begin the transition towards boat ramp upgrade and the new boatramp facilities. To date the Council continues with its standard response of not having the money to either provide or maintain such facilities - and time and time again they are informed that recreational fishing injects $350 million per year into the local economy. Normally projects such as these are fully funded by the Fishing Trust Fund and supported by RFNSW with fishing licence money. With regards to Tuross boatramp more than 99.99% of its use is for recreational fishing. This fact is acknowledged by Recreational Fishing NSW and as such provides substanciation to their willingness to fund improvements. The State Government, Better Boating, and the other primary State bodies responsible for marine waters and activities stand ready to assist financially however they wait in limbo for Eurobodalla Council to actually get off its hands and simply sign a document that says they agree in principle while the community identifies what they want, what they need and seeks the guidance and the funding to achieve it.