EIGHT years have passed since a high-traffic boat ramp was closed at Coronet Bay, and locals have now had enough.
Private developing company, Coastal Estates, hold the license for the Coronet Bay boat ramp, and have blocked access to the ramp completely.
Hundreds of boats access the remaining Coronet Bay boat ramps and the Corinella boat ramp on weekends, creating chaos as boats jostle for a position on the causeway.
The situation is being described by locals as a nightmare.
Dr Tim Ealey, a resident of Corinella and a member of the Coronet Bay Boating and Anglers Association, has been extensively compiling evidence of the congestion caused by the closure of the ramp at weekends, and is concerned about the damage being done to other boat ramps.
“The causeway and access to it is one of the main reasons why so many people have purchased property in the Coronet Bay and Corinella area,” Tim said.
“This closure has now made it impossible for anyone to visit or maintain the ramp.”
According to Dr Ealey, Coastal Estates closed the gate to the Coronet Bay boat ramp approximately eight years ago, with a locked gate preventing public usage of the ramp.
A temporary intertidal ramp has been constructed at Coronet Bay by local Ronnie Dowman and other volunteers to assist in easing the congestion of boats and trailers on weekends.
Pressure is also being placed on the nearby Corinella boat ramp, and calls are now being made to construct a third ramp in Coronet Bay to alleviate traffic on weekends, or to reopen the original boat ramp.
The Coronet Bay Boating and Anglers Association are now calling for Coastal Estate’s lease of the ramp to be removed and handed over to the Bass Coast Shire.
Manager for Sustainable Environment at the Bass Coast Shire, Deirdre Griepsma, said the council has been liaising with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), and has concluded that unless the licence is held by the council or a public committee of management, public access cannot be guaranteed.
“The primary reason for the ramp remaining closed is that Coastal Estates are unable to secure the necessary insurances without a significant upgrade and associated costs,” Deirdre said.
“The current closed boat ramp requires significant upgrading and infrastructure works to bring it up to standard and make it useable. Council is not in a position to invest significant funds of up to $250,000 into a facility it does not have the licence to, and cannot guarantee community access to.
“DEWLP and the council have been discussing the best way forward to resolve the situation.
“This includes exploring an agreement where the council, or another Ministerial delegated committee of management, could manage the private boat ramp, including long term public access and liability.”
The current access road to the closed boat ramp is on private land owned by Coastal Estates.
The Sentinel-Times contacted Coastal Estates, based in Melbourne, for comment.
For Dr Ealey and other residents of Coronet Bay, the situation is simply not good enough.
“Can you imagine the anger and frustration of nearly 300 boaties who are now battling against the nightmare that is the overcrowded Corinella ramp?” Tim said.
“Something is wrong with that picture.”