FREMANTLE sailing club vice-commodore Bob Kucera says the South Beach boat ramp proposal is not dead in the water.
He met with mayor Brad Pettitt and south ward councillors Andrew Sullivan and Jon Strachan after the council rejected the proposal following stiff local opposition.
“I don’t think the consultation process was handled terribly well,” the former Labor health and sports minister told the Herald.
“The level of misinformation was disappointing, the club never intended to use the beach.
“We didn’t get the opportunity to get our message out.”
Mr Kucera says the club will study objections and, “sort out the truth from fiction,” before revisiting the proposal.
The club had planned to build a 75m boat ramp off the existing groyne at the north end of South Beach as part of a major redevelopment of its facilities.
Mr Kucera says nearly half the respondents to a controversial council-funded survey supported the club’s proposal.
“Our long-term view is to give our junior fleets direct access to the ocean,” he says.
The $7500 survey was described as biased by locals wary of “club creep” (the club’s expansion onto previously public land). Locals say the plan was presented as a done deal.
Dr Pettitt says the meeting was constructive and, “while we were supportive of better facilities for junior sailors, the Fremantle council and community would only support an outcome that had a greatly reduced impact on the beach”.
Cr Sullivan says the meeting was held to “clear the air”. Club general manager Robert Clement also attended.
“They were obviously upset,” Cr Sullivan told the Herald.
He admits the survey the club asked the council to conduct—and pay for—was not the brightest idea.
“You can’t hold a survey on something that requires a lot of discussion,” he says. “It was not very productive, and unhelpful in creating debate in the community.
“The community lost confidence in the process and council needs to take some responsibility for that.”
Cr Sullivan says the misinformation got so out of control it was, “difficult to tell the truth from the lies”.
Mr Kucera says he’s heartened the council will continue to work with the club on the proposal
Dr Pettitt says there needs to be a more collaborative process, “not just a survey”, that got all stakeholders involved early on.
by CARMELO AMALFI