ALL’S well that ends well you might say.
And it must be said that one of the key stakeholders in the development of a new toilet block on the Inverloch Foreshore, June Laycock, President of the Anderson Inlet Angling Club, couldn’t be happier.
She was most complimentary this week of the care taken by the shire’s administration to get the right outcome.
“It makes it a lot easier for us to connect our clubrooms to the sewerage when the time comes,” she said.
But for a cash-strapped Bass Coast Shire Council, which is so bereft of funds that it is considering the closure of the Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre and the Inverloch Transfer Station; any unnecessary delays, redesigns to plans or wastage of council officers’ time is a major issue – a costly issue.
We endured it with the dogs on the beach controversy.
We saw it with the waste of up to $100,000, second-guessing and even third-guessing approval of the Inverloch Shared Pathway by the responsible authority, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
There’s a fearful smell of it about the plan to close the Inverloch tip.
And we’ve seen it again with the Cuttriss Street Activity Area toilet project, the siting of which was adopted by council and never rescinded back in July 2014.
It is noted in the council report that the selected location “underwent significant community consultation over a four year period” before the July 2014 decision.
Yet here we are, June 2016, and the council has only just reconfirmed its decision of 24 months ago, to put the toilet and changerooms on the original site (shown in Key Direction 1 – Cuttriss Street end – of the activity plan).
And even then, the shire admin isn’t entirely clear to get on with it, such is the convoluted nature of the motion passed last week.
In the meantime, council has been acting potentially beyond its powers in considering other sites based on requests from the South Gippsland Conservation Society to minimise the loss of vegetation and the Inverloch Windsurfing Club which has long sought a storage area for its equipment.
In fact the council even went to the embarrassing extent of moving a motion at last month’s meeting, on May 18, moved Cr Andrew Phillips, seconded Cr Jordan Crugnale: “That council amends the Inverloch Foreshore Cuttriss Street Activity Area Plan July 2014 to reflect the change of location of Key Direction 1- Proposed toilet block to Area 10 as identified in the Plan, immediately west of the Angling Club.”
This would have put the toilet block, changerooms and possibly a storage area for the windsurfers on the grassed area next to the angling club but oh dear, someone forgot to ask DELWP if they’d agree.
They didn’t like it.
They are reluctant to have any new buildings on the foreshore at all these days and certainly not a storage area for individual clubs like the windsurfers who could just as easily put their stuff elsewhere.
The toilet block, yes, and changerooms, these are OK too, and in the case of the facility to be selected at Inverloch, it will be a stylish toilet/changerooms that can be relocated in the event of rising sea levels.
So, with little explanation about what changed between the May and June council meetings, the council moved a new motion last week entirely contradictory to the one that was passed the month before: “That council approve the relocation of the Toilet Block to the location shown in Key Direction 1 (Cuttriss Street end) in the Cuttriss Street Activity Plan July 2014”, the original location of two years ago.
Cr Crugnale initially wanted a motion calling for a further redesign of the toilet block so that it didn’t include the changerooms component “so that the facility can be better integrated with the landscape and vegetation removal minimised” but she was rolled by the council on that.
Cr Kimberley Brown made it clear she wouldn’t be voting for Cr Crugnale’s motion because it prescribed the removal of the changerooms.
Cr Clare Le Serve and Cr Brad Drew were also against the removal of the changerooms.
“After eight years, we should just get on with it,” Cr Le Serve said.
Moved by Cr Rankine was an alternate motion which specifies that the project “follows as close as possible Key Direction 1 from the Activity Area Plan”.
This should ensure that layout of the toilet, complete with changerooms and toilets, will go ahead without further intervention by councillors or single-interest groups.
The shire’s General Manager Infrastructure, Felicity Sist, is at least clear on what needs to be done.
“The council has authorised an ‘internal project control group to oversee the construction of a toilet block within the 2015/17 budget allocation’ so no, councillors will not be further involved,” Ms Sist said.
“The design of the toilet block will be along the lines of the one included in Attachment 3, with male and female changerooms, disabled toilet and men’s and ladies’ toilets.
“We could for example go for a narrower building that suits the site better but it will be substantially the same.”
At last week’s council meeting, councillors who had previously voted to delay the project had the gall to give the CEO Paul Buckley a hurry up, urging him to have it ready by the Christmas holidays.
“The design has been through the original process and includes a disabled toilet and changerooms. We would endeavour to deliver it on time,” he said.
Ms Sist said she didn’t believe the second-guessing had actually delayed the project, nor did she think that another year paying for a leased toilet block had cost council.
“We got the funding for the design work in the 2015-16 budget and the project has been funded in the 2016-17 budget which is how these things usually go.
“Having the portable toilet for another year enabled us to assess usage and we found the toilet was well used. We also didn’t have to clean that one for 52 weeks, like we will with the new one.”
So it looks as if the shire can get on with it now but the ambiguous nature of the motion passed last week could lead to further delays still.
The real test will be if the toilet block is ready prior to the summer holidays.