Wangi RSL jetty falling apart

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Wangi jetty in ruins PATCHY: Wangi RSL Club’s treasurer Ross Ahrens on the jetty that he says is in a poor state of repair and is in dire need of replacing for the benefit of the broader community. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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BLOCKED OFF: Part of the Wangi RSL Club jetty that can no longer be used because of damaged and decaying decking. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

BROKEN: A floating concrete finger wharf at the Wangi RSL Club jetty that has been taped off because it is damaged. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Wangi RSL Club treasurer Ross Ahrens on the damaged and decaying jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

Part of the damaged Wangi RSL Club jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A gap in the decking on the Wangi RSL Club jetty.

Wangi RSL Club treasurer Ross Ahrens on the damaged and decaying jetty. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

TweetFacebookHerald along the jetty, he pointed out it was a walk through damage and decay. Wooden sheets covered gaps in the deck. A walker recently had a plank give way beneath him, Mr Ahrens said. Cleats had been torn from kick rails, and most of thefinger wharves had been blocked off, because they were too dangerous to use. Only a fewboats remained in berths that were deemed usable.

“It’s sad, totally sad, Mr Ahrens said as he surveyed the jetty.

The club has had plans into Lake Macquarie City Councilto extend and upgrade the jetty. The council has given approval for work on the existing jetty, but Mr Ahrens said “it’s gone beyond repair”.

“You’ve got to rip the whole thing out and do it again,” he said.

Wangi RSL is grappling with how to pay for a new jetty. MrAhrens estimatedit would cost between $1 million and$1.2million to build it.Theclub has had some lean years, and it doesn’t have the moneyto replace it, so it has been looking at other funding options. It has considered the possibility of an external developer and manager to lease the facility. Anotheroptionis government funding through the NSWBoating Now program, which the club is applying for.

But Ross Ahrens said under that funding arrangement, the club would have to come up with 25 per cent, or about $250,000. Which is why he has proposed an accompanying option: to sell the land the sailing club occupies.

The sailing club, which has been abase of Olympic gold medallistsNathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen and the venue for many national regattas, has a 99-year ‘peppercorn’ lease with the RSL, with about 73 years to run.Mr Borgert said the sailing club would like to further secure its future by buying the block, if it became available.

“We’d be looking at it favourably,” he said. “We are in a position [to buy], subject to the price.”

The sailing club is also keen to see the RSL’s jetty replaced. The club’s coaching and rescue boat is berthed there, and the jetty’s finger wharf is heavily used during regattas.

“If the RSL didn’t have a jetty, we’d have to put in temporary berthing,” Mr Borgert said.

Although it was the club’s responsibility to maintain the jetty, it was a community asset, Mr Ahrens said. Boats from all over the lake frequently used it to access the nearby shopping area. However, the income from the jetty, by leasing overnight berths, brought in only about $15,000 annually for the club.

“Is there an equivalent for a single club standing alone and doing it all for a community wharf?,” Mr Ahrens asked.

He said the club had asked Lake Macquarie City Council for financial support, “but the answer was they could not justify three wharves in the one area”. There is a jetty on thesouthern shore, at Dobell Park, and another in front ofWangi Workers Club, at the head of the bay.

A spokeswoman for the council said it did not provide funding for the improvement of assets it did not own. However, she said the council had advised Wangi RSL on potential funding opportunitiesand would assist by providing a letter of support for the club’s application to the NSWgovernment.

Julian Borgert argued the council should be more supportive, given how much the general public usedthe RSL jetty.

“They [the council] can sit back and say it’s an asset of the RSL, but it’s not a private marina with security gate access to it,” he said.“We struggle big time to get anything funded [by the council] down here.”

Ross Ahrens said the club would most likely have to close off the main part of the jetty by the end of March.It would also have to spend about $20,000 to repair an adjoining wharf, so that the boating community still had some access to the shore.

“I think it’s a detriment now, more than an asset,” Mr Ahrens said.