THE shire wants it removed.
But the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club wants its patrol tower to stay right where it is, at least until after the summer patrol season, which starts in just four weeks’ time, on Saturday-Sunday, November 26-27.
It’s a classic Mexican stand-off.
No one has a solution.
They can’t think of a worse time for the Bass Coast Shire Council, backed it now seems by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), to slap a removal/demolition notice on the club.
The shire has also declared the tower unsafe and removed the Certificate of Occupancy.
The patrollers can’t go into the tower even if they wanted to.
The club disputes it’s unsafe.
And according to the President of the Inverloch SLSC, Fiona Hughes, it could cost $45,000 to $50,000 to crane the building out and to remove the deeply concreted pylons.
“That’s where they told us to put it,” said Mrs Hughes this week.
Certainly, the waves are continuing to crash in on the sandbags and breakwater devices protecting the foundations of the troubled tower.
While the tower itself stands firm, the waves have cut deeply into the surrounding dunes, exposing power and communications wiring from the clubhouse to the crippled structure.
The steps up to the tower are now more than two metres above the scoured beach.
The key issue, though, is the safety of swimmers, thousands of whom will soon descend on Inverloch’s famed surf beach.
“The surf lifesaving club needs a tower to allow the patrollers to effectively look up and down the beach,” Mrs Hughes said.
“Ninety per cent of our rescues happen outside the flags.
Ms Hughes said the club accepts that the tower needs to be moved, however as building reports sought by Inverloch SLSC confirm that the tower is currently stable and time is so short, the club would like to keep it in place for the summer season.
Arrangements also need to be made to provide access to the beach and to the tower.
“It’s simply too late to be moving the tower at this stage,” she said.
And after reaching an impasse with the shire, they’ve called on Surf Lifesaving Victoria, local MP Brian Paynter, Senator Bridget McKenzie who is an active member of the club and the State Minister for Emergency Services, James Merlino, to intervene.
The group is continuing to engage with the shire but they refused to put out a ‘media release’, prepared for them by the shire, that said everything was hunky dory.
It clearly is not.
After the Sentinel-Times contacted the shire, at 3.30pm yesterday, the shire published the following media statement on its website:
“The Inverloch Surf Life Saving Observation Tower will be removed due to significant erosion causing the structure to become unsafe and inaccessible.
“After several site inspections and discussions with the Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club, the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and Bass Coast Shire Council have deemed the observation tower to be a risk to public safety, having been subject to major wave erosion for the past 12 months.
“While other options were considered, removal is the only viable option, as the structural integrity of the building would be compromised if it were to remain long term.
“The tower was designed to be removed should this situation occur, and both Council and DELWP will assist the Surf Life Saving Club to remove the tower.
“Council and DELWP have also spoken with Surf Lifesaving Victoria regarding the removal of the structure and service over the summer period.
“The shire met with the club two weeks go to discuss the Observation Tower and explained to the club that due to the caretaker period before the election, it was restricted in the communication it could undertake on the issue. Council prepared the short media release and provided it to the club at its request.”
Where to from here? Who knows?
The club wants the tower to stay until after the summer, the shire wants it to go.
Who’ll save our tower?